Tech History – Those Soothing Female Voices

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From SIRI To OOMA – They’re Everywhere

Before The SIRI Lady – There Was This Voice


It’s no secret now – that the voice off SIRI is in fact Susan Bennett. Some of us knew early on, knew – it had to be a real person and not a synthesized voice – as was led to believe. SIRI began the trend with smart phones and apps – so that many services today – from mapping to instruction apps, have similar sounding “soothing” – yet authoritative female voices – that get the job done.

Ms. Bennett may be the most popular female voice-over today – but at least for now, she doesn’t have the longevity of a predecessor.

Before Susan Bennett – there was Jane Barbe (pronounced Barbie) – who – for decades – was the voice for anything and everything to do with your phone. Phone as in – landline/telephone company.  “I’m sorry, the number you dialed has been disconnected, or is no longer in service.” Anyone with a telephone knew her voice.

Like Bennett, Jane Barbe recorded a series of words, sentences and numbers that could be stringed or edited together by automation.

Millions listened each month, but very few knew who she was. Odds, are – someone in your family will still recognize the voice.

Jane Barbe passed away in 2003 – but can still be heard in places such as WWVH – the atomic clock shortwave station (run by the National Bureau of Standards) out of Hawaii: “at the tone – 4 hours, 35 minutes co-ordinated universal time.”

Barbe set the standard that not only continues today – is bigger than ever.







Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with That addressed now forwards to - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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  1. Chris Barnes August 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

    You find the female Siri soothing? I can’t *STAND* that voice. In fact, I refused to use Siri until Apple came out with a male Siri voice with an American dialect.

  2. ebey August 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    It was female voice , but its horrible ,they should hired some female singer with cute voice

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