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Robot Archaeology: The 2-XL Robot #Robots

If you were a kid in the late 70’s to the 80’s, chances are if you wanted a robot that was more than a remote controlled car with a wire, something “programmable”, then you wanted a 2-XL robot. Originally marketed by Mego Toy then Tiger Electronics later in the 90’s, the 2-XL was special. The early version used an 8-track tape for programming and speech, with the 90’s version using cassettes.

The toy’s success was also the basis for a game show called Pick Your Brain. The 2-XL robot in the show served as the assistant of host Marc Summers. 2-XL was a spokes-robot for basketball player Michael Jordan and his charitable foundation in 1992 and 1993 and appeared in a number of public service announcements) with Jordan. During its time 2-XL in either version won hundreds of awards including Disney’s Family Fun Magazine award for best toy of 1992, and Right Start Magazine which selected 2-XL as Europe’s best toy in the 3 – 5 year age category for 1993, and one of the ten best toys ever developed by Playthings Magazine. The Tiger 2-XL was also the winner of the 1992 Walt Disney Co. Best Learning Toy for 1992.

The technology was rather advanced with voice and interaction. Five U.S. patents were issued for the 2-XL:

  • Patent number: 3947972, Real time conversational student response teaching apparatus
  • Patent number: 4078316, Real time conversational toy
  • Patent number: 4117605, Real time conversational toy having secure playback response
  • Patent number: 5213510, Real-time interactive conversational toy
  • Patent number: 5213510, Real-time interactive conversational toy

There is still active work with the 2-XL. Websites 2xlrobot.com and retroland.com have information on the bot and there is a 2-XL emulation website (uses flash).

The 2-XL has also been turned into an Alexa bot here on Adafruit.

Keep an eye out at yard sales and flea markets – you too may find a robot you want to bring home. #MakeRobotFriend

Did (Do) you have a 2-XL? Post your remembrances in the comments.


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