Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Learn to Spell While Phoning Home

Way back in ye olden days of yore, my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa had to learn his ABCs from what they called a horn-book or crib book, which was basically a bare ping-pong paddle with the alphabet scrawled onto it using a burnt stick or something. While the benefits of having a learning tool around with which you could play a quick round of table-tennis during recess were obvious, humankind soon discovered that a static display and lack of digital sound were keeping future generations from reaching their true academic potentials. Thus, in 1978, the brilliant engineers at Texas Instruments, known for their pioneering work in transistors and integrated circuits, decided to bestow upon us mere mortals, not unlike Moses at Mount Sinai, an electronic tablet. No it wasn't an iPad. It was called Speak & Spell and it was frakking awesome. Designed for children to assist them in learning how to literally speak and spell, the brightly-colored portable battery-murderer was the first device of its kind to feature true digital speech synthesis and not just human voices recorded on tape like the earlier See 'n' Say line from Mattel. While sales of the Speak & Spell were consistently brisk due to its innovative and engaging style of learning-through-playing, the device truly became a monster-seller after its inclusion into the plot of Steven Spielberg's 1982 classic, E.T. Thanks to modern technology, you can re-experience the thrill of spelling "boobies" on one of these machines by going HERE and trying out science teacher Kevin St. Onge's home-brewed Speak & Spell simulator featuring authentic retro sights and sounds! Make sure you've got Flash! (hint: press the "on" button to get the simulator started)

1 comment: