Since its earliest days, Bell Labs had been concerned with the properties and analysis of human speech. It was inevitable that a Bell Labs scientist would invent an artificial talking machine and, in 1936, H.W. Dudley did. It was the world's first electronic speech synthesizer, and it required an operator with a keyboard and foot pedals to supply "prosody" ? the pitch, timing, and intensity of speech. Dudley called his device the "voice coder" though it quickly became known as, simply, "Voder." It was a hit at the New York and San Francisco World's Fairs of 1939.
AT&T has continued speech synthesis research into the 1990s.