It may now seem as archaic as black and white television, vinyl records and footballers called Wilf, but in its day the speak-your-weight machine was very much at the cutting edge of multimedia technology.
The principle behind it was straightforward - you see a big machine bearing the words 'I Speak Your Weight', you insert a coin, you stand on the machine, it speaks your weight. The simplicity of the concept, combined with the novelty of a talking machine1, effectively blinded the public to the utter pointlessness of the idea.
The eventual demise of the speak-your-weight machine can be attributed to a number of factors...
Increased adult literacy rates meant that an ever-increasing number of people could suddenly read the scales for themselves.
The invention of the affordable, lightweight bathroom scale was undoubtedly a major setback.
But experts agree that the final nail in the speak-your-weight machine's proverbial coffin was the public's sudden realisation that they didn't want everyone within a 500-yard radius to know how much they weighed.
The machines are very rarely seen nowadays, although their spirit lives on in a range of jokes of the 'I wouldn't say my wife was fat, but the other day she got on a speak-your-weight machine and it said "One at a time please"' variety.
1 Contrary to popular opinion, the manufacturers of speak-your-weight machines almost never employed small people to sit inside them and read the customer's weight from a scale as parents are wont to tell children.
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