Texas Instruments MAGIC WAND  Speaking Reader

Date of introduction:  June 1, 1982 Display technology:  n.a.
New price:  $120.00
 Books: $12.00
Display size:  
Size:  11.0" x 11-0" x 2.3"    
Weight:  26 ounces Serial No:  
Batteries:  4*D cells Date of manufacture:  wk 38 year 1982
AC-Adapter:   Origin of manufacture:  USA
Precision:   Integrated circuits:  C14007, TMS5220, CD2228
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner
Download leaflet:   (US: 2.2M Bytes)    

MagigWand_P1.jpg (336382 Byte)The MAGIC WAND was introduced early in Summer 1982 with the suffix "SPEAKING READER. Both names together give you an imagination of the technology behind this rare educational toy:

A small barcode reader catches words and sounds from a text book and the
synthesizer technology borrowed from the earlier Speak & Spell, Speak & Math or the Speak & Read reproduces it. The barcodes are entered from the left to the right.

The barcode reader (wand) is attached to a long cable to reach the every corner of the rather large books. The side view of the barcode reader shows a black tip on the right made from infrared transmissive plastic. Inside of the housing neatly formed for small hands you will find a Infrared LED as transmitter and a transistor as receiver to sample the barcodes printed in the books.

The story books end with a little reading comprehension test asking some questions and demonstrates the capabilities of the innovative concept of the MAGIC WAND.

Dismantling an identical MAGIC WAND Speak & Learn manufactured in November 1983 by Texas Instruments in the United States reveals a design centered around just three main Integrated Circuits:

C14007: Most likely a TMS1000 based 4-bit microcontroller
TMS5220: TMS5200 VSP (Voice Synthesis Processor) with updated LPC-10 table
TMC0355/CD2228: VSM (Voice Synthesis Memory) with 32k Bits

Marketing guys from Texas Instruments decided within a few months after the introduction of the "SPEAKING READER" to change its name to "SPEAK & LEARN" - unfortunately didn't it save the product from discontinuation.

MAGIC WAND - Available Books

Unfortunately released Texas Instruments never a list of the available barcode-books of the MAGIC WAND Speaking Reader but fellow collector James Townsend compiles it himself:
(Bradley Mariska provided additional information about "The Berenstain Bears". Thanks !) 

Title Level ISBN Copyright
Mister Roger's Planet Purple 1 - Toddler 0-89512-092-5 © 1983 First Edition
Family Communications, Inc.
My First Animal Book 1 - Toddler 0-89512-085-2 © 1983 First Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
The Droopy Dragon 2 - Preschool   © 1982 First Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Talking E.T. Wordbook 2 - Preschool    © 1982 First Edition
Universal City Studios, Inc.
The Alphabet Zoo 2 - Preschool  0-89512-059-3  © 1982 Second Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
The Noisy Number Robots 2 - Preschool 0-89512-060-7 © 1982 First Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Makes Science Simple
2 - Preschool 0-89512-093-3 © 1982 First Edition
PicturePages®, Inc.
The Berenstain Bears Olympics 2 - Preschool 0-89512-070-4 © 1983 First Edition
The Berenstain Bears
The Sprites' Adventures on Earth 3 - Early Elementary   © 1982 First Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
The Wonderful Sound Store 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-061-5 © 1982 Second Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
The Amazing Spider-Man in Skyscraper Caper 3 - Early Elementary   © 1982 First Edition
The Berenstain Bears On the Job 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-069-0 © 1983 First Edition
Stanley and Janice Berenstain
The Great Monster Party 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-074-7 © 1983 First Edition
The Berenstain Bears
Zany Zingers 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-086-0 © 1983 First Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated
Scooter Computer and Mr. Chips 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-088-7 © 1983 First Edition
American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Mac's Big Surprise 3 - Early Elementary 0-89512-058-5 © 1982 Second Edition
Texas Instruments Incorporated

MAGIC WAND Speaking Reader

"LPC allophone speech was also used in the TI MAGIC WAND Speaking Reader, a product that came out shortly before Texas Instruments discontinued its Consumer Products Division in 1983.  Text-to-speech capability was used in the development of bar-code readable books for children as a first-pass generating of the strings of allophones and their accompanying prosody. The first-pass strings would then be edited to produce the optimal allophone strings and prosody that would then be coded into bar-codes under the written text of the printed book. A small bar-code reader could then be passed over the bar-code and the MAGIC WAND reader would string the stored allophones together to speak the passage." 

Kathleen M. Goudie Marshall, (1979-1983 Member of Technical Staff, TI Consumer Products Division, Lubbock, TX)

The MAGIC WAND Speaking Reader is featured in the Texas Instruments Incorporated bulletin CL-775 dated 1984.

Find here the reproduction of an article featured in the TIME Magazine dated June 7, 1982:

Now Hear This: Full Ahead!

Monday, Jun. 07, 1982

The Kinokawa Mam, a 92,207-ton ore carrier, pulled out of Tokyo harbor last week on its maiden voyage to Australia. When Captain Yukio Imai wanted to change speed, he did not order a crew member to yank the traditional brass-handled lever. Instead, he spoke through a microphone to the ship's computerized engine control, which has a voice synthesizer and recognition device developed by Japan's Sodensha Electronics Ltd. The control device can comprehend eleven verbal commands, from "Full ahead" to "Full astern," given by the captain or two of his officers. To show that an order has been received, the machine repeats it in a flat voice reminiscent of Hal, the talking computer in the movie 2001. 

This voice-controlled engine is one of the new applications in the rapidly emerging technology that allows machines, in a primitive fashion, to use human language. Dallas-based Texas Instruments, which pioneered low-cost talking computers with its Speak & Spell learning aid, last week unveiled Magic Wand, a machine that can read to children. It is disc-shaped like an LP record album. A youngster passes a wand attached to the disc over books that contain not only pictures and words but also bar codes on pages similar to those that now appear on grocery items, magazines and other goods. The wand reads the codes, and the unit makes the appropriate sounds. The machine can also sing, bark or even say "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." Texas Instruments this year will publish at least eight coded books, including Stranded E.T.'s Adventure, a spin-off from the new Steven Spielberg movie. The Magic Wand costs $120 and each book $12. 

Job hunters who phoned the Softwork Voyce employment service in Cambridge, Mass., last week heard the greeting: "Hello, I am the Voyce. I am a robot helping employers and job seekers meet each other." The Voyce, which is a computer at Softwork headquarters, explains that it will compile a résumé for the caller if he answers the robot's questions by pushing the proper buttons on a touch-tone phone. If the caller is using a dial phone, the Voyce tells him that it cannot hear his answers. A sample question: "Are you presently a student or a worker? Enter one if student, two if worker." The machine uses the answers to produce a resume, which Softwork sends to employers. Softwork President Joel Mannion thinks that his new service will be appealing to job hunters. Says he: "They don't have to dress up and don't have to worry about somebody intimidating or embarrassing them." That is, just as long as they Like talking to a machine.

© 2009 TIME Inc. (,9171,951786,00.html)

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© Joerg Woerner, September 22, 2009. No reprints without written permission.