The simple CardTalk cardboard player was developed to play phonograph records without electricity. It's ingenious design allowed the sound to be played through a needle on the cardboard sleeve, which doubled as an amplifier.
The CardTalk was small, inexpensive and easy to operate. Hundreds of thousands were sent to the remotest places in the world.
The CardTalk Story
Here's how David Macnaughtan described the development of the CardTalk.
"In late 1964 when I was on furlough in Australia, Stuart Mill had asked me to research the secret of an intriguing toy record player made of cardboard. This originally came from Ireland. I did this, with the aid of a Sydney cardboard wholesaler. We found that it was the grain within the cardboard that was so important. GRN in Australia and USA manufactured these for some years.
"On returning to India I sought to find suitable materials from which these could be made, but with no success. Later, on one of her visits, Joy Ridderhof and a group of the staff were fellowshipping in Calvin and Elaine Lucas' house. Suddenly Joy said, "David, why don't you try making one of those cardtalks from corrugated cardboard?" It took just a few minutes to fabricate one of these from packing cartons. The result was exciting. The elusive crisp clear volume we had been unable to obtain with other materials was right there!
"So began the production of corrugated cardboard CardTalks. A muslim friend who made many of our jigs and fixtures made a needle clip in which the needle could be changed when worn. We tacked a few spare needles in a secure place. For the flat surface on which the record turned we bought untold quantities of the scrap circular piece that the tin manufacturer punched out when making dried milk cans. In this we punched a suitable central hole through which to fit an 'eyelet' that matched the hole in the record. It was also necessary to drill a hole in the edge of the record label to insert a pencil or suitable sharp stick with which to turn the record at the desired speed.
"The CardTalk gave us an effective means of playing a speaking record at a cost that would enable mass distribution in the villages. In years to come many tens of thousands would form the main tool used by Operation Mobilisation and other Christian organisations. One missionary working with the blind found the CardTalks ideal, and distributed them to Hindu and Muslim homes throughout India resulting in a number of people coming to the Lord.
"World Literature Crusade, with their 'Every Home Crusade' program faced the challenge that many thousands of homes in India, especially among the tribals, had no one who could read their literature. Permission was given for them to use our CardTalk design, but to have them made commercially, along with records in some hundred or more languages. In this way at least half a million more cardtalks were distributed."