Your voice as others hear it 

11 September 2023

Special Exhibit by Voice Records Ltd.

National Hall.




Cover of the Radiolympia catalogue for 1936

From the 1936 Radiolympia catalogue

ON this stand Voice Records Limited, of 5-6, Argyll St., London, W.1, are again displaying the Voice Recording Automat. This unique invention is completely automatic and records your voice while you wait. It does this for 6d. [2½p in decimal, £1.40 today allowing for inflation – Ed], and for two other pennies will deliver an envelope suitable for carrying the voice record through the post together with gramophone needles with which to play it.

An interesting lesson which this machine teaches is that nobody knows what his voice sounds like to others. (This is a scientific fact.) The explanation is that whereas one hears other people’s voices externally through the eardrums, one’s own voice is heard internally through the bones of the head.

When the machine is to be used, two panels slide out on either side to ensure privacy whilst recording; an indicator also appears to guide you when to start and stop speaking. You can sing, or speak about 125 words, and so soon as you have finished, your record is instantly delivered and may be played back on a small gramophone at the side of the machine and listened to through earphones.

Mr. Christopher Stone, Director of Technology to this Company, says: “The Voice Recording Automat is outstanding, and is, I think, precisely what the public has been wanting for many years. It is designed with the most minute attention to detail. I am particularly impressed by the exceptional degree of fidelity which the high-class microphone gives to the reproduction of the voice.”

Quoted below is an extract from an article which appeared in the “Daily Express” of the 28th March, 1935: “Have you ever heard a record of your own voice? It will astonish you. People attend to their hair, face, teeth, clothes, manners and walk. They die without ever knowing what their voice sounds like.” In other words, whether they sound pleasant or unpleasant to their friends. This machine would seem to be the perfect answer to this article, as it gives everybody the opportunity of hearing their voice as it sounds to others.

The records are 5-inch and unbreakable, and can be posted at the usual letter rates.

Before long every railway station, hotel, or chain store you enter will contain one of these machines to remind you of the forgotten letter and invite you to “Speak it now.”

Business men who want salesmen with melodious voices will almost be persuaded to buy their own goods when the secretary puts on the gramophone letters of applications for jobs. The family black sheep in the Australian Bush will be able to hear Uncle Toby’s stentorian “Well, young fellow-me-lad, have you given up your bad ways yet? My gout’s no better.”

Apart from the humorous side, this machine will really serve a very useful purpose.


You Say

2 responses to this article

Paul Wheeler 11 September 2023 at 6:35 pm

When I was very little (so about 1963-5) my dad and I recorded our voices on something just like this.

Somewhere in London, on a day out, but I can’t remember exactly where, so they did survive as a novelty (even though plenty of people, including us had a tape recorder by then).

Went home and played it on record player- only got about 3 minutes for our money.

Steve Baird 14 September 2023 at 8:52 pm

Voice Records can trace its origins back to New York when John Field a British mechanical engineer first registered a logo as a trademark in October 1931. Designed to look like the Empire State Building a machine was installed in the west lounge observatory of the Empire State Building which operated into the 1940’s when it was replaced with a Voice-O-Graph machine.
Voice Records Ltd was formed in London in 1934 when John Field obtained a patent relating to an advertising machine. The company floated on the London Stock Exchange by by 1937 went into liquidation. The machines were often to be found in department stores or other public places or exhibitions. People would record a short message on an 78rpm aluminium disc. Each message would last for about 125 words, on the reverse would be an advertising message, often for tobacco or the department store where the machine was located.
The machine was built by BMR of Bristol who specialised in amusement equipment and distributed by the Amusement Equipment Co. of Wembley. Six machines were used in the Netherlands by the Dutch Post office as part of the Phonopost scheme and some Dutch department stores.
Other machines of this type were to be found in Egypt, Lahore, Sydney, Malta and Shanghai. Only two examples are known to survive, one in the Netherlands the other in Malta. More information can be found on Voice Records – Gesproken Brief Facebook page

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