The Vocoder

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Much of today's pop music involves synthesized sounds. Many performersincluding Cher, Madonna, and the Beastie Boyshave tried to incorporate this distinct sound into their voices, by using a voice-coding device known as the Vocoder. Although the sound is very high- tech, the Vocoder was originally developed in the 1940s to improve telephone service. Inventor Homer Dudley of Bell Laboratories designed a way to break speech patterns into modules that could be transmitted over a narrow bandwidth. The Vocoder was also used during World War II to enhance poor trans-Atlantic messages between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.