Speak & Spell: A Brief History

Audrey Watters

Toys as Teaching Machines

The Speak & Spell – probably the most legendary toys from the 1980s – is really a teaching machine.

With that, I do not mean simply that it is a digital, educational device. It’s that, sure.

In the "Good reputation for Teaching Machines," historian of psychology Ludy Benjamin writes that,

"A teaching machine is definitely an automatic or self-controlling device that (a) presents one of knowledge (B. F. Skinner would state that the data should be new), (b) provides some method for the learner to reply to the data, and (c) provides feedback concerning the correctness from the learner’s responses."

The shared features in many definitions training machines include automation, immediate feedback, and self-pacing. The Speak & Spell has the 3, using “contingencies of reinforcement” to determine appropriate spelling behavior. (A number of its engineers thought it might be funny when the user received a raspberry or perhaps a funny comment once they typed a thing wrong. However this idea was rejected because it would “reward” incorrect spelling.)

Like a lot of education technology, the Speak & Spell requires a behaviorist method of learning and teaching.

That’s significant, since i would reason that the Speak & Spell has profoundly formed the way we consider electronic educational devices – what we should expect these units to do.

Traveling With A Laptop and Erectile dysfunction-Tech: From Calculators towards the Little Professor

Often the good reputation for the Speak & Spell isn’t tracked through B. F. Skinner’s teaching machines but with the calculator. (That being stated, Skinner had made significant in-roads into both engineering crowd and also the popular awareness within the 1950s and 1960s together with his teaching machines.)

In 1967, engineers at Texas Instruments developed the very first handheld electronic calculator. Because of numerous technical developments (single nick microcomputers, Brought and LCD, for instance), these portable computers rapidly improved and cheaper. In early 1970s, calculators might cost hundreds of dollars, but through the finish from the decade, the cost had come lower to ensure they are less expensive and much more commonplace.

And thus, with a few resistance and debate regarding their impact on learning, calculators started to go in the classroom. A brand new erectile dysfunction-tech market.

In 1976, Texas Instruments introduced what it really boasts was “the first electronic educational toy”: the small Professor.

Speak & Spell: A Brief History

The Small Professor offered like a reverse calculator, of sorts. Rather of plugging inside a mathematical expression to be able to get a solution, the small Professor provided the expression, and also the user needed to supply the answer – it’s, as some have described it, an “instructional calculator.” Based on Texas Instruments,

It functioned like a handheld drill-and-practice aid for fundamental math, and is built to look like a wise and friendly owl. The Small Professor recommended problems to students and rewarded all of them with a note on its display once they gave the right answer.

Little Professor was priced to market for less than $20 and it was an immediate hit. Although production was ramped up, TI couldn’t make enough units to fill the orders for that Christmas season in 1976. Interest in 1977 was greater than a million units.

The prosperity of the small Professor motivated Texas Instruments to brainstorm other possible electronic learning products.

The introduction of the Speak & Spell

It had been Texas Instruments engineer Paul Breedlove who apparently developed the concept of a learning aid for spelling. (Interestingly, one of the first patents for educational devices was awarded in 1866: “an apparatus for teaching spelling.”) Breedlove’s idea ended up being to build upon bubble memory, another TI research effort, and therefore it involved a remarkable technical challenge: the unit will be able to speak the spelling word aloud.

Research started in 1976 – a 3-month practicality study having a $25,000 budget along with a group of four: Paul Breedlove, Richard Wiggins, Ray Brantingham, and Gene Frantz.

Speak & Spell: A Brief History

Inside a 2008 interview with Vintage Computing, Richard Wiggins described the first development process:

Initially, there have been merely a very couple of people involved. In the initial meeting in November, Paul Breedlove came to the study Labs with Gene Frantz and Ray Brantingham in the Consumer Products Group. Caused by that meeting was which i ended up being to propose a procedure for generating it within the product. The task was it needed to be solid condition (no pull strings!), cheap (meaning it used an inexpensive semiconductor technology), and also the speech needed to be adequate so the user could comprehend the word from context — a bit harder than utilizing a word inside a sentence. Ray would be a circuit designer and it was tasked to find out if things i created might be implemented within an integrated circuit. Ray and that i stayed together discussing various strategies, and Gene Frantz, who eventually grew to become the work manager, stored the general design continuing to move forward.

Because the program moved on during 1977, additional people stored being put into the work. It had been amazing in my experience the number of people eventually be involved. [There have been] people focusing on which spelling words decide, exactly what the product need to look like, what it ought to be known as, where it might be manufactured, and just how it had been to become marketed.

The initial Speak and Spell was introduced in the Electronic Devices Show in 1978. The 10“ x 7” orange plastic device contained a library of countless hundred “frequently incorrectly spelled words.” The device would say one aloud, and also the user would types through the pushbutton keyboard (later a membrane keyboard rather of elevated buttons). Because the user typed, the letters would seem on the VFD screen (later LCD) – one type of feedback. (Thanks, Skinner!) In the pr release, we are able to begin to see the other type of feedback: “Right solutions earn verbal and visual praise wrong solutions receive patient encouragement to test again. Numerous games can be found to intrigue children of every age group.Inches

The toy were built with a recommended retail cost of $50. (That might be now about $181, adjusted for inflation.)

A Speaking, Teaching Machine

The Speak & Spell wasn’t the very first speaking toy. However it was, as Texas Instruments boasted in the CES pr release, the very first with “no moving parts.” Other toys, for example Mattel’s Chatty Cathy, used pre-recorded voices on phonograph or tape, typically triggered with a pull-string or similar mechanism. These broke easily, just like any parent would let you know. So “no moving parts” would be a feature for durability.

But to complete by using the Speak & Spell, Texas Instruments needed to make an essential engineering breakthrough in speech technology.

Based on TI’s Richard Wiggins,

I promoted the option of straight line predictive coding to create it signal from a tiny bit of data. Today, it could be easily recorded and kept in large digital memory chips. However in 1976, memory chips were incompetent at storing much data. We considered generating it from phonemes or seem fragments however the speech quality wasn’t sufficient. An electronic filter might be used and also the time different coefficients might be kept in memory but the quantity of computations involved appeared too great.

Also, some type of speech elements shorter than words were considered, however it made an appearance that the quantity of computer processing to organize data they are driving it synthesizer could be too time intensive, and also the resulting system could be very complex. We wanted something easy to create the speech sounds, along with a preparation system for that data that wouldn’t be too complicated to complete.

The answer: the very first straight line predictive coding digital signal processor nick, the TMS5100. Each word was symbolized by a number of phonemes. This speech data was kept in the device’s memory (on 2 128 kilobit ROMs, at that time the biggest capacity ROM being used) when the Speak & Spell was told to state a thing, the command was processed via a 4-bit micro-processor and speech synthesizer. Mitch Carr, an invisible announcer from Dallas, was selected to record it sounds, because of his obvious, monotone voice, and based on Texas Instruments, “it marked the very first time a persons vocal tract have been digitally duplicated on one nick of plastic.”

Speak & Spell: A Brief History

“The Standard for Educational Toys”

The Speak & Spell was certainly one of a trio of speaking educational toys released by Texas Instruments that later incorporated Speak & Read and Speak & Math (both launched in 1980).

Speak & Spell was incredibly well-liked and it was offered all over the world, with cartridges that offered localized versions of games and word libraries both in different accents (British British versus American British, for instance) and languages (Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, and German).

The Speak & Spell was re-designed several occasions (the final amount of time in 1992 for that Spanish market only), and Texas Instruments insists, “the fundamental learning concepts and style concepts remain the conventional for educational toys.”

But will the Speak & Spell educate?

Based on research printed within the Worldwide Journal of individual-Machine Studies in 1982, users possessed a “significant rise in the spelling of words within the machine’s lexicon.” However that increase didn’t stick. “This made an appearance to become merely a temporary increase because spelling performance on these words started to decrease to pre-machine exposure levels when the chance to make use of the device was removed. No improvement was noticed in the spelling of words away from the machine’s lexicon.”

These aren’t uncommon findings, obviously. A lot of erectile dysfunction-tech is similarly ineffective.

The Speak & Spell is becoming probably the most legendary bits of education technology, referenced over and over in popular culture. The unit made an appearance in Toy Story and Toy Story 2 and, including, in E.T. the additional-Terrestrial.

E.T. used the Speak & Spell to “phone home,” however it doesn’t really educate spelling.

Hacking the Speak & Spell

But E.T. tried on the extender to “phone home.” For this reason, regardless of the model where the instruction was created and despite the possible lack of research to show it had been truly a highly effective spelling aid, the Speak & Spell seems to escape behaviorist teaching machines – because when E.T. shown, the Speak & Spell is eminently hackable.

It may be dismantled and reprogrammed to complete various things, for everyone different purposes.

Speak & Spell: A Brief History

The Speak & Spell is frequently utilized in “circuit bending,” for instance, whereby the device’s normal functioning is disrupted and distorted to create new sounds by putting an alligator on the particular place around the circuit board. From Casper Electronics (that provides detailed instructions on circuit bending):

“So, when the Speak & Spell was saying ‘Spell the term PONY’ and also you activate the ‘hold’ effect in the center of ‘PONY’, it might seem like…..‘Spell the term POOOOOOOOOOONY’.” All this makes the Speak & Spell a regular “instrument” in many noise music.

Unlike the number of electronics are "closed" and restricted by design, Texas Instruments didn’t restrict usage of the several language cartridges by region. And the organization hasn’t responded negatively to individuals who “circuit bend” (or show others how you can “circuit bend.”) That approach differs, it’s important to note, from the one which TI required to lock lower a number of its other computers. In ’09, Texas Instruments filed a DMCA takedown request against programmers who’d published instructions regarding how to “flash” a brand new operating-system onto Texas Instrument’s TI–83 series graphic calculator that’s, a method to make its devices programmable past the TI software.

The Speak & Spell is really a behaviorist teaching machine however it maintains for that user the capacity to face up to that. (Something which I am sure B. F. Skinner would find quite distasteful.) First, obviously, you need to unscrew the rear cover, open it up up, and hack.

Deals with the Devil: A Brief Musical History

  • uyiuit: God is good, God is great. Music, science and other sins will soon be exposed and may all see the true light of Jesus Christ.
  • Dr.Blues: Can you Digging' with The devil?
  • MLG_Bear_Simulator: Is dumb but I wish someone would sell their soul to be the best Christian rocker ever lol
  • Maxim Brückmann: Cute
  • Hell hound: LoL you certainly never heard of Black Metal when you talk about the next century
  • Fossil Diver: How do I get one of these deals? Is there an online application form? I really need a better paying gig.
  • rin Xhen: I want to sell my soul
  • AnisaOMG 999: Dummys dont sell your soul it matters alot
  • tony torres: The devil is religion..pure evil..catholic church..t.v. evangalist..jewdism..all religion is evil..
  • PB: Watching some modern no-talent starlets of today and their "creative" video clips, I think the Devil stepped back into the industry some time ago and has never left.
  • Juan Rojas: I have a theory that says. Xxx tentation, the now deceased rapper, sold his soul. He has a song called "I spoke to the devil in Miami, he said everything will be fine". This young guy ended up reaching millions all over the world. They even mourned his death by the thousands. In the song he states that he met with a demon and basically sold his soul and seemingly regretted it. His bestfriend, another current rapper ski mask the slump god, recently released a song where he says. He met the devil but he didn't sell his soul and is still unwilling to do so. It's also my little theory that the reason Xxx died so young (20yrs old) is because he wasn't doing the demons will. He was just barley becoming a better person than he's been. And he was a troubled person. He began to be a positive one instead even beginning to donate to charity the same day he was shot. Also to note is he died in the same city he said he'd spoken to the demon, Miami. Truly spooky if you ask me.
  • maletdan 16: Hollywood or show business are just a money machine based on lust, corruption, lies and manipulations. You have to be dirty to be part of that industry and to be able to grow in that world.

    So now that we are informed … what can we do about it…suggestions please bcz I’m tired of hearing things but there is nothing being done about them.

  • Patricia Flores: God is in control of our soul until judgement day but doesn't mean that the Devil won't torment them until the end and God sends who ever doesn't repent they will be in torment for eternity and God won't have control what happens when they go to hell but until then God is in power no one or anything is but him.
  • B C: Elvis died August 16. My birthday is August 16th. ?
  • B C: I've had a dream come to me multiple times where I made a hit song and it sounded so good, or I wrote some unbelievable lyrics but I can't ever remember what they were or sounded like. Was that the devil?
  • laapasakuna: The spelling and pronunciation of Niccolò Paganini (Niccòlo Paginini…) is itself devilish.
  • Shut the fuck up Hater: ????????
  • Philip Baca: ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight
  • にゃあエイリアンMeowAlien: I would not mind going to hell if I could listen to the Devil playing violin all day
  • Damaris Bauzo Cardenas: Nice
  • Nerijus Vilčinskas: Robert Johnson practised a lot, a lot, a lot. And he had passion. It is hard work, passion and discipline, not a freakin talent.
  • 888,888_ fiery_mercaba: Upon pondering the information posited at "4:15," I see this as another example of what tremendous negative effects bullying or rejecting a person for no truly valid & honorable reason can have on the person & even on society. Whereas the youth Robert Johnson didn't respond by listening to urgings of devils to become, say, a school or a mall shooter, he did respond in his despair & bitterness over being mocked by allegedly seeking the devil's assistance to become a guitarist & thus became a musical assassin for Satan & the other spirits of spiritual darkness.
    Had a right-thinking, caring guitarist taken Robert Johnson under his or her wing & helped him with what they knew, maybe, just maybe Johnson would not have made his choice of Satan as his musical master.
  • 888,888_ fiery_mercaba: Polyphonic, I've some questions you have raised in my mind at approximate points "6:18" & "6:33." While I was watching from the start of your video here & thinking while watching that it was certainly very well put together & musing upon how this certainly presents what should be a chilling awareness & deterring warning to anyone alive currently & especially to anyone alive currently who was somehow contemplating that the absolute folly of "making a deal with the devil" is a good thing, I was really inclined to give this production of yours a "thumbs up." But then I got to "6:18" where you start a thought that seems to end with a contradiction of the foregoing of the thought. I speak of when you note that Satan has not ceased to try to insert himself & his purposes as much as he can & is permitted to into the music of humanity, which I certainly agree with, but then you say that there have been no "deals made" with the devil since the blues guitarist Robert Johnson "that we know of," which remark strikes me as odd because, by other items in the contents of your channel, I would expect you to be more aware than most at the fact that there have most certainly been numerous "deals made with the devil" by these so-called, these "celebrities" of acting & music in our lifetimes.
    And yet, whereas I could perhaps narrow the foregoing causes of pause, quandary, & angst on my part in the interaction with this video of yours to either genuine naivety (which, as stated earlier, is hard for me to fathom, since you appear to be indulgent in this type of topic enough to know more than most) or, disturbingly, for whatever reason, disingenuous denial, I really have to ask for clarification of what you continue with at approximately "6:33," what you remarked there being far more serious & disturbing to me, if I construe the remark correctly. At this juncture in question, you, Polyphonic, seem to bemoan what you think is the lack of further "deals with the devil"! I mean, am I accurately hearing & interpreting you, man? I hope I'm not, but I don't see how I am not hearing & interpreting you correctly. A response from you on the matters, therefore, could be quite helpful for not only me to arrive at a precise conclusion, but also for others who may also be experiencing "Huh?"
  • Patrick dalton: I wish they would get somebody with the right voice to do these videos..it’s always somebody with a winey high pitched shrill sounding voice.
  • Lance Malone: He already went down to Georgia….. Duh
  • cool Skittles: The Bible says what prophets a man if he sales his soul and gains the whole world. You soul Is the actual you that will spend eternity in hell or heaven. Not the earth. Our bodies are just the house of the soul.
  • cool Skittles: Go to Jesus give him your life.
  • Metalogen: Hail Satin
  • Monstro Medieval: People used to say that Keith Richards and Tony Iommi made a deal too.
  • Red Five: Can someone please tell me the song at 3:17 please please!
  • Chris Cantor: Try Back Street Crawler's Jason Blue for the best example I know. They were Paul Kossof's final band in mid-1970s.
  • LegendaryCazaclaw: The fallacy behind this theory is why does the devil only target certain individuals? If I were in the business of souls I would target everyone right up front. "Look man I'll make your dreams come true, heaven on earth, etc etc I just need you to sign this". I think that would bring in a lot more customers and be faster than creating an industry, setting up companies, hiding in the shadows, corrupting henchmen only to bring in a couple of dudes a year to make it huge in the business. Just doesn't make sense.
  • Klaus Cartesius: "One of the most important musicians of all time" :-)))
  • David McCann: Bob Dylan has an interesting interview about his trip to the crossroads
  • Danny Richardson: I sold my soul to the devil once. He gave it me back because it was too dark for him.
  • DeGuider: current music is entirely composed by him.
  • Tinkus Winkus: Who wouldn't trade their own soul for some sick guitar fingers
  • Rosie Weise: Jesus is Lord…
  • Rafal Bator: Didn’t Robert plant sell his soul to the devil
  • Derek Jeffries: According to Jewish Mythology Lucifer was supposed to be in charge of Music in heaven. Christians conflated this figure with Satan, even though there's no evidence that the Satan of the Old Testament and Lucifer of the Old Testament are the same thing.
  • Danish Naufal: johnson the first in the 27 club ?
  • Omkar Bharambe: Knock knock, let the Devil in.
  • Grim Affiliations: What is the importance of the number 27? Why do these great musicians die at that age so often? pagnini was much older when he died but he was born on the 27th of October and died on the 27 of may
  • Noname20188 Naboth: Madonna, Beyoncé, Miley, Rihanna, Katy, all mainstream musicians basically
  • craig moreland: Satan is real, just look at your news. BUT GREATER IS JESUS, WHO HAS THE VICTORY OVER sin and death, WHEN HE DIED ON THE CROSS FOR Our sins. AND, ALL We Have to do is TO ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS of Our sins, AND THAT We ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS Our LORD AND SAVIOR, BECAUSE We WANT TO BE BORN AGAIN! HE LOVES Us, satan, the devil, doesn't.
  • BlackPanzer KampfWagen: Once you make a deal with the Goat?, That's it, You can never turn back.But you can't bring your Fame and Fortune in the Lava Lake once you take you're last breath..
  • Dragon Slayer: Owchie oof these good Christian comments.
  • young Veteran: I sold My soûl to thé devil
  • casual sun: Despacito
  • Francis Squire: I had a feeling this vid would attract the kind of religious loony that only exists un America…I wasn't disappointed !
    If only your knew how hilarious you are!
    Thanks for making me laugh so much !
  • somethingretarded: A bunch of people are saying that Satan is still a part of the music industry, please explain.
  • somethingretarded: looks kind of weird
    "yeah he's possessed"
  • Bryce Castle: Robert Johnson's take on the devil is actually more fascinating than that I think. There was a brief time where he settled down, got married, went to church, the whole nine yards. It was a lifestyle very contradictory to that of a Mississippi delta blues musician, but he attempted it nonetheless.

    Attempted and failed, and as a result of that failing, began writing songs that characterized these failings attributed to the devil within him. Was it a dramatic metaphor for his guilt in failing? Was it something he thought would make him stand out as an artist? We'll never really know but I think it gives us the best insight as to what his feelings may have been about the trials and tribulations of his personal life.

    I think that's really cool and relatable.

  • Liam Murphy Music: At this point we need someone to tell their soul for better music. Any willing to take one for the team?
  • bepinkfloyd: the fuckin cringe half of the comments gave me is too much. FFS go writing your prayers on your fuckin diary instead of spam this shit on youtube. Fuckin retard people with retard religion. I have enough of this shit living in italy with all this fuckin church everywhere breaking balls on sunday with those fuckin bells. Jesus was a fictional communist and god is a son of a bitch. GO FUCK YOUR SELF. and btw satan is way better than god. God killed more people in the old testament than fuckin satan, so yeah go fuck yourself dumb christians.
  • Amar Besseghir: This is a small yet proper and very substantial exposé. The most important matters in regard of how it started are very well explained in a well-setted timeline. ??????
  • Colby Lawson: Mac miller?
  • Thegreatestman Toeverwlktheplanet: Morons…
  • S550 Danny: I’d do it. I don’t care if I go to hell. I love music that much and I hate so much that I can’t make it
  • Avner Tromp: No mention of Lil Uzi vert?
  • David Appleton: Lol. Neither the devil or God exist
  • The bomb dog: Whats the song playing in the video
  • Jim Tiberius: Why ask the Devil for unearthly skill, when you can simply go to Skillshare? ^__^
  • Jonathan: led zep has a devil deal rumor too, surprised didnt mention that
  • Joseph Stalin: What about the 27 club
  • Matthew Aarness: I play guitar and I listen to Robert Johnson's recording and hear one guitar. One. Not two. Just one.
    I fucking hate when people repeat such nonsense . Anybody who has played guitar for any length of time will not hear two guitars listening to Robert Johnson's records. You will not. Keith Richards did because he is a piece of shit no talent fuckhole from hell.


  • Matthew Aarness: The reason Kieth Richards thought Robert Johnson's records were two guitars is because Kieth Richards is a stone cold moron. Of course he thought it was two guitars. He's a fucking idiot. Fuck the rolling Stones .
  • passtheBuck Canuck: Great video…awesome Robert Johnson research
  • Viirkron: He gave talent to xxxtentacion then took his soul
  • 01sapphireGTS: Super well done post.
  • MVLGUS: Fuck it I’d make a deal with the devil… anyone know how too?
  • mark griffith: the devil made a deal with the lead singer of rainbow kitten surprise he sings about it the way he dances on stage too makes him look possessed
  • Julio.Fuente5 _: jesus has left chat
  • Slim 74: What i see is that people that make deal with demons or offer their souls. Get instant gratification, but they arent remembered when their time is done
  • juan duran: The devil was beaten by Tenacious D. They sing about it in their song Tribute. A tribute to the song they played (and forgot) to beat satan… duh!
  • corin beauvais: Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life. wide is the path that leads to destruction. narrow is the path that leads to life. that path is Jesus Christ.
  • J man: I literally watched this vid only to read the comments from all the religious people and I’m just dieting laughing rn lol
  • Night Rose: see this is what we not finna do
  • Mr. E. Nygma: It seems that the devil likes string instruments.
  • Indoctrination Time: All famous musicians have sold out. Fact The beast system is in full swing and if you can't see that you're still asleep little sheep.
  • PineAppleCry: What's the song @ 3:15 ?
  • June Rosa: Whoa. Excellent coverage.
  • Bado Gaming: Should of included jimmy page
  • Critical Kaiju: never knew Tuvok played guitar.
  • Eric Nguyen: For religious individuals: Perhaps music is a source of indulgence and passion all which come with a sense of sin. The devil however is not the source of all evil he is simply temptation ones decisions is where true evil resides (along with good of course.) The devil never forced the apple upon the woman in the garden nor did he force bread down Jesus' throat. Perhaps we all sell a little of our souls to fulfill the darker things we desire. It may not be as grave as others.
    For Atheist: All fables are metaphors for understanding human nature. It's a road to self awareness. Examples from Greek and Roman lore, the multiples deities portrayed good and bad qualities resembling human beings. Darkness is tied deeply to art. Selling ones soul can be perceived as literal or a metaphor for indulging ones darker desires and temptation. Have you never given everything to fulfill a desire you had to find yourself with exactly what you sought but none of the happiness that you wanted from it?
    I've sold my soul to the serpent, perhaps not in the literal sense but I'll do anything to obtain what I desire. I will have everything that I want and I will suffer from it. I will live as a wolf and die as a sow.
  • iersejounge: Total shite.
  • Rex Everything: Robert Johnson started the 27 club.
  • George Mason: Oh Christ now I'm gonna have Christian conspiracies in my YouTube recommendations for months
  • grndragon7777777: i like your stuff. subscribed
  • HeyDude93gt: Does this so-called “deal with the devil” only apply to musicians that don’t adhere to mainstream religious people’s approval that went on to became rich and popular?
  • Cait L.: Now they just call it Freemasonry and hide behind that. Upper level freemasons and Eastern Star witches are all open Lucifarians.
  • C_Norman93: What about Snoop Dogg's "Murder was tha case?" Watch the music video; it chronicles his music career.
  • Sheridan Wilson: Lil Uzi Vert
  • chud8you: This shit is so fucking dumb!
  • HS-01: damn there's a lot of brainwashed people in the comments lol
  • Dr J: Try to MISLEAD at the end WICKED EDOMITE