Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#0073: Speak & Read

Just as a precursor, I am currently unable to access my camera, so this entry will be briefly featured without any photographs. So if you're reading this and wondering what's with the lack of imagery, there's your answer. If you're reading this at a later date, and there are indeed pictures, then might I say, that is the most fantastic photo of the Speak & Read that I have ever seen. Practically orgasmic.

Though they're now better known for calculators, in the late 70s Texas Instruments hit a home run when they came up with the Speak & Spell device. Effectively an electronic tool that taught kids how to say some shit, it was a major revolution for its time, back when using technology as a learning tool was still a novel concept, and not completely and utterly crucial and necessary in every facet in life and kids know how to operate iPads before they even know how to wipe their own ass and what the fuck is up with that and this sentence is over now.

So significant was the Speak & Spell, it was referenced frequently in popular culture, most significantly in E.T. as a means of intergalactic communication, and in Toy Story as a key contributor to the toy society. So far, I haven't been able to use the Speak & Read to contact Mars or to help make plastic corrosion awareness meetings run smoothly, but in all fairness, maybe such features were only available to the Spell model. My loss, I guess.

Supposedly, the Speak & Read helps kids aged 4 to 8 increase their vocabulary, possessing a small army of 250 words. Unfortunately, I lack the four C batteries (or the ability to give a shit) necessary to power this thing, so I can't confirm which of your favourite rude words are included. It's probably for the best, because I don't know how productive spending six minutes shouting 'fuck' at this thing and waiting for its response would be.

It also has six different game modes; Word Zapper, Word Maker, Read It, Picture Read, Letter Stumper and Hear It. Of course, these games mean nothing to me, because other than their titles and the images on the corresponding keys (Letter Stumper appears to have Phanto from Super Mario Bros. 2), I know nothing about what each one consists of. Let's assume Read It lets you read words, Word Maker has you make up bullshit words like Kwyjibo, and Word Zapper forcibly removes words from your memory. That last one isn't very popular, because frequent play has limited the amount of words I currently have at my disposal. I honestly had a really good word I wanted to use today, but I can't remember what it is. So instead, I will use the word 'qualm'.

Want to see the thing in action? I kind of do. Like I said, I'm not going to bother chucking batteries in there, but fortunately the venerable sbdivemaster has the patience, the batteries, and the lovely looking towel to undertake such a task.

Oh wow, that's annoying as shit, isn't it? I had forgotten what these old talking devices sound like. I mean, I shouldn't be too harsh, this thing premiered in 1980, but those tones and buzzes are taxing to my ears. With the amount of knowledge I sucked out of this thing, it also explains why to this day I often talk like the Intellivoice. Damn you, Texas Instruments. Come back to me in twenty-five years when I'm failing math class because I'm too busy playing 'snake' on my calculator to learn anything about bivariate data and box and whisker plots.

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