Throwback Thursday Object: The Edison Voice Writer
Our object this week was found in storerooms at the Delaware County Workers for the Blind in Muncie, Indiana in 2013. Office dictation equipment was used by professional stenographers who were blind or visually impaired to type documents for others, and also by blind professionals to record letters, notes, or any other material they wished to archive. The machine stored its recording on a red seven inch “Edison Diamond Disc” which could also be played back on a standard phonograph. Disc-cutting systems such as the Voice Writer, Sound Scriber, and Dictaphone began to decline in popularity in the 1960s, replaced by tape based systems.
The case was designed for Edison by Carl Otto and introduced in 1952. If you have never heard of Otto, he was one of the most influential industrial designers of the twentieth century. He designed soda fountain dispensers for Coca-Cola and electric shavers for Schick. His Edison Voice Writer design, with its rectangular, gray-brown cast aluminum chassis, and bright aluminum trim won a national award from the Industrial Designers Institute.
Otto supposedly said in 1945, "We create beauty for useful purposes...not for museums." But in this case, I guess he was wrong…