Tiny little phonograph from an old Datsun

Murilee sez, "Remember the first generation of cars with voice warnings, from the late-70s/early-80s era? The Datsun 810 was the first, and I've disassembled the voicebox from a junkyard unit. Turns out that Nissan used a tiny phonograph, complete with 3" record with 6 separate grooves (one for each message) and a precision solenoid-controlled stylus. All in a 3" cube. Coolest thing I've seen in a while."

1982 Datsun Voice Warning Box Used Tiny Phonograph Record, Just Like Moon Base Robots (Thanks, Murilee!)


  1. @OSCAR

    So THAT’s how those pull-string talking toys work! I can’t believe I never wondered about that before now… Curiosity FAIL :(

  2. That’s pretty awesome. Write all you want about how programming computers to do these things takes skill, but coming up with ways to do them mechanically requires really being clever.

  3. I remember these…I had to disconnect mine when a switch in my Datsun Nissan 200xs’s door kept forcing the Door Is A Jar…Door Is A Jar…Door Is A Jar…over and over and over.

    Never thought of pulling it apart to see how it worked. That’s actually really cool…

  4. It’s not often that a technology developed for a toy is transformed into a useful automobile gizmo. Usually it’s the other way around.

    Whaddaya wanna bet that the engineer assigned with designing the voice playing module took apart his See & Say as a child?

  5. Now for the bonus round. Hack it so it plays your own messages – i.e. make your own tiny record.

    Kinda doesn’t make sense to do so though with flash memory solutions.

  6. When I read the headline I thought this was a maker project about constructing a record player from an old compact car.

  7. …I’m expecting some MAKE guru to come up with a simple method for pressing your own Hot Wax replacement disks for this gem:

    “Hey frackwit! You left your lights on overnight!”

    “You are now entering the Ghetto. Make sure your doors are locked, your windows are rolled up, your seatbelts are buckled, and…whoops! Too late! Yo, bro! Welcome aboard! Enjoy your new ride!”

    “I feel your pain. That’s why I’m dripping oil on a copy of the Koran every time you have to fill me up!”

    “Just in case you didn’t notice, your car was jacked up last night…”

  8. I bought a ’72 Dodge Monaco back in the 80s. I remember looking at the owner’s manual and discovering an option for an in-dash record player. If I remember it was sort of mounted in a cradle of springs to absorb shocks. It even had a list of available records! I think they were a proprietary and could only be played on that player. Unfortunately my car didn’t have the player…

  9. A friend nearly gave me his Datsun’s voice box but decided to keep it. Shame. Something to keep in mind next junkyard visit..

  10. my super cool 1982 Datsun 200SX used to repeat “The Door is Ajar”

    a dear pal of mine from Greece looked at me and said “Next she will tell me the window is a Spoon?”

    it took me a few moments to realize, in his mental translation, the door was A Jar like peanut butter comes in. and he had no idea why the lady always babbled such gibberish.

    Adventure story #2: I roadraced motorcycles with Old Man James. (he is even older now) very retentive. everything has to be in its place, order is valued, etc.

    We were coming back from a weekends races in Henderson, Tx, on our way home to Austin. “Fuel Level is LOW” repeated about every 5 minutes.

    I passed TWO towns with the lady saying “Fuel Level is LOW” it was water-drip torture for Old Man James. third town he BEGGED me to stop for gas. I did, then I showed him the switch on the dash that turns the lady’s voice off.

    he beat me with a rolled up newspaper.

    Fuel level is LOW
    The Door is Ajar

    i cannot remember anything else she said

  11. 13tales @2 So THAT’s how those pull-string talking toys work! I can’t believe I never wondered about that before now… Curiosity FAIL :(

    I had a Chatty Kathy doll when I was a kid. It actually had removable records so that you could change the phrases she said. You inserted the records into a slot near her hip. For some reason, I never saw anything creepy about that as a kid.

  12. I had a K9 (Doctor Who) toy with a very similar device, battery powered though. Too young to drive in ’82, not too old now to still have the K9 (even if the record player has bust).

  13. I used to have an old ashtray that had a button which, when pressed, said “*cough cough cough* What?!? Another cigarette?!”. When it stopped working, a friend took it apart, and lo and behold found a teeny tiny record player inside.

  14. The Bag of Laughs toy available at joke-shops used to have a record in it too.

    Is the common thread Japanese engineering or manufacturing?

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