Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE II ISSUE 1 / APRIL/MAY 1980 / PAGE 4

The Single-Board 6502

Eric Rehnke


(available from East Coast Micro Products, 1307 Beltram CT, Odenton, MD. 21113).

The thought of having your computer actually speak to you has probably crossed about every hobbyists mind at one time or another. The fact that very few of us ever hear a word uttered from our computers is probably due more to the cost of such speech output devices and not to their availability as most of them are in the $400-$600 range.

When Texas Instruments introduced the SPEAK & SPELL for about $50, I had a feeling that a truly “cheap” speech output device was just around the corner.

I forget just how long that “corner” turned out to be, but it must have been about a year before Dave Kemp of East Coast Micro Products introduced his SP-1 interface for the SPEAK & SPELL.

Dave initially sent me his information package which acquianted me with the SP-1 interface and discussed some of the basics of the SPEAK & SPELL's method of speech synthesis.

The most important thing that I learned was that “… SP-1 does not turn SPEAK & SPELL into a black box speech synthesizer which can be used to add voice output to a users' chess, bridge, or Star Trek program. It is a tool which will allow the serious experimenter to investigate speech synthesis at a cost far below other commercially available synthesizer boards.”

Later, I got the chance to review the SP-1 interface package.

The documentation for the SP-1 turned out to be quite a bit more than I expected. Only 2 of the 28 pages were devoted to assembling the interface board which indicated that this package was intended for the advanced experimenter. The software drivers were presented in well commented source listings as well as detailed explanations of how the SP-1 operates and a special section on SPEAK & SPELL theory of application. Software flow charts and a bibliography were also included.

I rate the documentation as excellent. Plenty of information here.

I hooked the interface to my SYM, loaded the hex dump software and shortly thereafter, SYM was giving me a vocal hex dump of its memory contents.

Shades of DEMON SEED. SYM was actually talking to me!!!

Other software was included to enable one to pull word data out of SPEAK & SPELL for analysis, but I never got around to using it. It would have been almost anti-climactic after hearing SYM actually talk.

The vocal hex dump software is the only piece of “black-box” software you get with the SP-1 that you can plug in and use. It's a great demo of the possibilities. The other software included is meant to aid the experimenter in working with the SPEAK & SPELL and developing things further.

By the way, no modifications were necessary to the SPEAK & SPELL as the SP-1 plugged into an internal edge connector.

The SP-1 interface package sells for $49.00 and is available directly from East Coast Micro Products.

If you want to tinker around with speech synthesis at a low price, check out the SP-1.