Texas Instruments Speak & Spell (Prototype Spanish Voice)

Date of introduction:  (1981) Display technology:  Fluorescent
New price:   Display size:  9 alphanumeric
Size:  10.0" x 7.0" x  1.3" 
 254 x 177 x 34 mm3
Weight:  16.7 ounces, 474 grams Serial No:  0521669
Batteries:  4*C cells Date of manufacture:  wk 35 year 1981
AC-Adapter:  AC9199 Origin of manufacture:  USA (ATA)
Precision:   Integrated circuits:  TMC0270/CD2701, TMC0281, TMC0350 (CD2319), TMC0350 (CD2320)
Program steps:   Courtesy of:  Joerg Woerner
    Download manuals:   (US: 13.0M Bytes)
  (US: 4.8M Bytes)
  (US: 0.8M Bytes)

Shortly after the invention of the synthesizer technology to reproduce human speech with tuned voices stored in ROMs (Read-only Memories - Integrated Circuits), Texas Instruments introduced the revolutionary Speak & Spell. If you compare this educational toy with the Spelling B you understand the differences: The Spelling B created a random number and the children looked up in an additional booklet the numbered pictures. The idea was to spell the name of that picture correct. The Speak & Spell used a different approach: The spoken word was generated by the built in loudspeaker and you had to type it in correct.

This educational toy was rated by Texas Instruments for children aged between 6 and 14 years. 

An alphanumeric display was used as feedback during typing words.

The same technology like this Speak & Spell was used in two other products: Speak & Read and Speak & Math. View the more serious Language products like the Language Tutor.

The original Speak & Spell introduced in the year 1978 used 40 button keys, the later products introduced in 1980 aka Version 2 featured a membrane keypad and a cost reduction program introduced in 1981 resulted in a different - and much smaller list of stored words, hence called Version 3.

This Prototype of the Speak & Spell Spanish Voice is based on Version 2, please notice the gold lettered "Texas Instruments" on the display screen and the large "TI" logo on the keyboard. 

Compare this red Speak & Spell with the blue Buddy, introduced in the same year in Germany, the French speaking La Dictée Magique or the colorful Grillo Parlante sold in Italy. For the United Kingdom market Texas Instruments just changed the Speech-ROMs and created the Speak & Spell (British Voice).

Dismantling this Speak & Spell (Spanish Voice) manufactured in August 1981 by Texas Instruments in Abilene, Texas reveals a printed circuit board (PCB) significantly smaller than the PCB of its predecessor. The Integrated Circuits (ICs) of this Speak & Spell Prototype use 0.4” wide 28-pin SPDIP (Shrink Plastic Dual In-line Package with a 0.07” / 1.778 mm lead pitch) and a 0.6” wide 40-pin SPDIP encapsulations to safe real estate.

The clean design of the Speak & Spell (Spanish Voice) Prototype is centered around four Integrated Circuits:

TMC0270/CD2701: 4-bit microcontroller with 2k*9 Bits ROM and 9*64 Bits RAM
TMC0281: TMS5100 VSP (Voice Synthesis Processor)
TMC0350/CD2319, TMC0350/CD2320: TMS6100 VSM (Voice Synthesis Memory) with 128k Bits, each

We do not know why Texas Instruments didn't introduce this Speak & Spell (Spanish Voice) for the Americas but we noticed some oddities with it. The two Voice Synthesis Memories TMC0350 are labeled with CD2319 and CD2320 which puts them right behind the Spanish "Solid State Speech™ Module" of the Language Translator introduced in 1979 and before the Speak & Spell for Japan introduce in 1979, too. Nevertheless was the featured device manufactured in August 1981:

CD2315, 16, 17, 18: (1979) Language Tutor Spanish Voice Module
CD2319, 20: (1981) Speak & Spell (Spanish Voice)
CD2319, 20: (1989) Speak & Spell (English Voice for Japan)

An inside view of some dismantled Speak & Spell products could be found here.

SpeaknSpell_ET.jpg (103144 Byte)Perhaps the most famous appearance of the Speak & Spell is in the movie „E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial“, with its veritable shopping-basket-full of confectionery and toy-merchandise product placements. E.T. phones home on a modified Speak & Spell, somehow turning the nine-volt device into a transmitter capable of spanning intergalactic distances.

In 1986 we knew a total of 10 different plug-in modules for the Speak & Spell, a comprehensive overview including the wordlists could be found here

Please find some manuals of the listed modules in the Download Section of the Datamath Calculator Museum.

In Europe Texas Instruments introduced five French speaking "Module Magique" and in Italy we discovered recently a rare "SuperModule" for the Grillo Parlante.

The Speak & Spell plug-in modules are featured in the Texas Instruments Incorporated bulletins CL-557 and CL-557R dated 1980 resp. 1984.

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© Joerg Woerner, November 27, 2020. No reprints without written permission.