Early Computer Speech Synthesis from Bell Telephone Labs

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design
Early Computer Speech Synthesis from Bell Telephone Labs


From the early days of synthesized speech comes this 1963 Bell Telephone Labs recording, which explains how the computer imitates human speech using punched cards and includes examples of synthesized speech, and even some singing. From the album liner notes:

Knowledge developed through such research programs may be useful in devising new techniques for transmitting speech more efficiently over communications systems. In the near future, for example, a person may be able to type on a keyboard and cause a typing machine thousands of miles away to speak for him. There is also the possibility that talking machines may be built for people who are unable to speak.

Bell Labs is credited with developing the C and C++ programming languages, UNIX, the transistor, the laser, and, in the 1930s, the vocoder (“vocoder” is short for “voice encoder”).

I think I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night with that computer voice in my head, singing this creepy, oddly compelling, and somewhat congested-sounding rendition of “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true…” (@2:12)

[via Coudal Partners]

12 thoughts on “Early Computer Speech Synthesis from Bell Telephone Labs

  1. Dave Bell says:

    As has been noted many times in the past (and any connection denied),
    (I, B, M}– = {H, A, L}

  2. AE5PH says:

    The first time I heard this rendition of “Daisy” was in the late 1960’s (1968?) on the documentary series “The 21st Century”, hosted by Walter Cronkite. I can’t remember which episode, but I think it was on the computer/robotics revolution. I don’t recall hearing it since then, but my memory of it compelled me to click on the link to listen. Ah, what pleasant memories of watching that series on late Sunday afternoons!

  3. Gerald Stevens says:

    Bell sold a electronics kit (Bell System Science Experiment no.3) speech synthesizer with a wonderful book filled with the theory of speech synthesis and sonograms. http://www.levitationfun.com/speechsyn.html

  4. Kalbos sintezavimas 1963 metais [MP3] · Radiocool.lt says:

    […] [via: Make] […]

  5. Alderin says:

    I listen to this, jump ahead to my daughter’s love of Vocaloids, jump back to ‘HAL’, and then to the present… 1963, about to be 2013… 50 years.

    I can’t help but feel that somebody has a big brake handle being held to our innovation wheels. Which is why I push for Make and Instructables and DIY of all sorts.

  6. killerstartups.com says:


    Early Computer Speech Synthesis from Bell Telephone Labs | MAKE

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