No, not the better-known Speak & Spell. TI’s 1981 Touch & Tell was a singular moment in speech synthesis. Here’s its story – and a beautiful circuit bent mod.
Before the iPad, the Texas Instruments Touch & Tell was a kid’s robotic learning assistant – a marvel of simple chip-based electronics combined with some Reagan-era toy design and mechanical engineering. As was the fad in home game systems, you added capabilities by popping in cartridges.
The Smithsonian in Washington, DC found it important enough to put the Touch & Tell in its collections. And yes, gasp – the Smithsonian has a chip collection. (Sorry, there’s a link hole to destroy productivity for the rest of today.)
I spoke with Ivo Ivanov, who had for some years made gorgeous custom modifications of this and other 80s classics. He was giving them slick futuristic paint jobs and useful, expressive circuit bend controls for transforming and glitching out the sound.
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