Synthesized speech was, for a long time, the Holy Grail of computing. Back in the 1980s, when a 4MHz CPU made your computer the fastest machine in the neighborhood, it just wasn’t practical for sofware to create intelligible speech. In those days, the only sensible way to generate speech was to offload the task to dedicated hardware because the CPU simply couldn’t keep up. The most widely used speech chip through the 1980s and early 1990s was the famous General Instrument SPO256A-AL2 Allophone Speech Processor. It was used in toys, external speech synthesizer peripherals for desktop computers, industrial control systems, and all sorts of other unexpected places. Then, as CPU power continued to increase rapidly, speech synthesis was moved to being a software function. Nowadays, of course, it is almost always done entirely with software in the main CPU, using only a tiny fraction of the available processing power. As a result the SPO256 became unnecessary, dropped out of production, and became a footnote in the history of technology.
KeywordsSpeech Synthesis Input Buffer Intelligible Speech Speech Synthesizer Stereo System
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.