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History of The Kazoo Through Patents

Part I--The First Kazoo                      

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 1877__194119

1877__#194119

It opperates like a kazoo, in that the sound of the player's voice (which is amplified and distorted) controls the pitch, 
but is not actually a kazoo as it is not a membranophone.  It has no membrane.  The two rigid halves, held together with a spring, vibrate together and apart when the player hums into the opening.


        1879__214010

1879__#214010

This is the first patent I have found for a kazoo type membranophone.  It consisted of a metal tube and funnel shaped bell.
The membrane was glued over the hole shown as the black rectangle (b)--(enlarge to see it better).
The player hummed into the mouth piece (m.)


FirstKazoo_1883__270543

1883__#270543

The First Kazoo

    This is the first patent that mentions the word "kazoo".  It was the name given it by Mr. Frost.  
In the text of the patent he refers to it as "This instrument or toy, to which I propose to give the name 'kazoo' ".  So far I have found nothing that indicates why he chose the name kazoo.

    This first kazoo was not the familiar 'submarine' shape.

1884__301711

1884__#301711

The second of Mr. Frost's patents was an improvement on the first kazoo, but was not referred to as a kazoo, although it is basically the same shape.  This one was assigned to George D. Smith (more about him later).
     
 

1896__US552612
1896__US552612

     Mr. Frost's third patent is for the instrument sold as the “Zobo” or “Zobo Horn”.  Bands of boys or adults equipped with Zobos where popular in the late 1890s and early 1900s. 

    The main difference between this and the first two being the diaphragm is perpendicular to the body of the instrument and the flow of sound, and the membrane is mounted on a rigid removable ring.
The main difference between the first two and this is the diaphragm is perpendicular to the body of the instrument and the flow of sound, rather than parallel and the membrane is mounted on a rigid removable ring.



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