Bell Labs Science Kits (Speech Synthesis)
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Speech Synthesis


Click on the thumbnail image above
for an enlarged view of an unopened
Speech Synthesis kit that still has
the original ten cent postal stamp.
Also note the Bell System package
sealing tape is still intact. The box
measures about 9.7" x 6.75 x 2.4"
(24.6cm x 17.1cm x 6.1cm)


Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

This kit was the only one I had as a kid back in the mid 1960's.  The original kit disappeared from my possession some decades ago but I fondly remember building and playing with it for years.  A member of the ATCA club wrote me that he once had four or five of these kits and ganged them together to produce more complex speech sounds by sequentially generating a single, but different, sound from each kit.


Photo 1 above shows the kit with the lid removed from the box and the book and slide rule laying next to the box of parts.  Photo 2 shows the bottom of the box turned over.  The pictorial schematic with pre-punched holes for mounting the terminal hardware is visible here.  Photo 3 shows the parts removed from the box. Photo 4 shows the components removed from their plastic bags (powdered iron cores for coils not shown) and the mounting of the hardware on the "circuit board".  As with most other thumbnail images on these web pages, clicking on one of the images above will display the full- size image.

An ebay seller sent me some photos of her kit that differs a little from mine.  Although the copyright on the box says 1963, hers was actually made in or after 1969 judging by the Bell logo.  The Bell logo changed in 1969 to what is still used today by some Regional Bell Operating Companies in the USA. To view the collection of pictures, click HERE.


Unlike the other three kits, I have scanned the entire book that came with this kit and have made it available via the links on this page as follows:

Side Note: In this book there is mention of the VOCODER. It's predecessor, the Voder, was a manually-operated deviced "played" like a piano or typewriter to create human voices. The Voder predates the Vocoder by a year or two, but both were the from the genius of Homer Dudley. The Vocoder is actually what Dudley was aiming to build -- an electronic device that could reduce the bandwidth of speech, without affecting its intelligibility. The Voder helped him model the human vocal tract. (Thanks to Gordon McComb for this information)


The kit also came with a "slide rule" for calculating resonance frequencies of inductor/capacitor tuned circuits called a "Resonance Computer".  A scan of this item is viewable by clicking HERE.


Bell Labs is still doing research in Speech Synthesis and a newer technology of Speech Recognition.  Please visit their neat web page where you can here your text input converted into speech (click here).  A sample of synthesized singing from the Bell Labs on-line speech synthesizer can be heard by clicking HERE.

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