found it: first speech synthesizer (at least, for S-100 systems)

Stan Sieler sieler at
Wed Dec 16 01:42:42 CST 2020


Some years back, I was asking if anyone had information about the speech
developed for the Altair 8080 by Wirt Atmar of AICS (in New Mexico).
No "hits".

Most places on the web claimed the Computalker was first, given the date as
1976 or 1977.

(Earlier speech synthesizes existed, but they were external boxes that one
interfaced to,
or were standalone (often with a large/weird keyboard).)

Today, I stumbled over a fairly bad OCR of Byte magazine from August, 1976

It has two articles about speech synthesizers for S-100 bus systems.

The first is by the Computalker people, who say:

At the time this article
goes to press, a synthesizer
module incorporating several
detail refinements and im-
provements over the circuits
of this article is being de-
veloped by the author and


A detailed user's
guide will be supplied with the
Computalker module

Note the future tense!

The second is by Wirt Atmar, whose product *was already shipping*.

Near the end of his Byte article, Wirt lists currently available products:

At the present time, two speech synthesizers
are both commercially available and affordable by
the hobbyist.

One is the Votrax produced by:

Vocal Interface Division

Federal Screw Works

500 Stephenson Dr

Troy Ml 48084

Price, approximately $2,000

Interfacing: Parallel or Serial (RS-232)

The second is the Model 1000 manufactured by:

Ai Cybernetic Systems

PO Box 4691

University Park NM 88003

Price, $425

Wirt had told me (twenty years ago or so) that he thought his was the first
for microcomputers (e.g., a user installed card, not an external box).
Now, I'm sure ... but it was realllly close!

Wirt demonstrated his product at the earlier MITS World Altair Computer
tion, where it won first prize.

He advertised it poorly/infrequently, since it was mostly a side business.
And, that shows, since history doesn't remember it.


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