The instrument is in the collection at Virginia Military Institute, and was made by the L. E. Knott Apparatus Co. of Boston. It is listed at $25 in the 1916 Knott catalogue; the catalogue description includes wave shapes of a human voice pronouncing the vowels.
This is a form of Phonodeik, a device invented by Dayton Clarence Miller (1866-1940) of the Case School of Applied Science about 1906. Prof. Miller used it to record the voices of scientific celebrities, including J. J. Thomson and Joseph Larmor.
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