What an amazing piece of 80s electronic gadgetry this was! A bright orange TALKING computer game, with loads of buttons and LOADS of spelling games! I loved my Speak and Spell!
It was created by Texas Instruments and was probably the most popular toy of 1978.
It practically ate batteries, using 4 at a time, but was the most durable thing I ever owned. I had managed to spill cordial over it, it had been dropped down the stairs, been sat on, but even after all the accidental punishment it had been through it still worked a treat.
The only complaint, (well, ok, not complaint as such, more frustration with it,) was that the technology wasn’t yet at a point where they could make synthesised speech 100% accurate. As as example, it couldn’t always pronounce the letter B in words.
You would play the spelling game, and the Speak and Spell would say, in its electronic voice, “Spell ‘Riven’”
Riven? What was a riven? Did it mean Raven? So you would type in R,A,V,E,N and hit Enter.
“Incorrect. Spell Riven.” it would repeat.
What on earth was a riven? Was Riven a real word? So you typed in R,I,V,E,N.
The Speak and Spell would reply, “That is incorrect. The correct spelling of ‘Riven’ is R,I,B,B,O,N; ‘Riven’”
AAAAAH, RIBBON, not RIVEN. HANG ON, I’VE LOST A POINT FOR THAT! WHY SHOULD I BE PENALISED FOR YOUR LACK OF BEING ABLE TO PRONOUNCE THINGS CORRECTLY. TAKE THAT YOU STUPID ORANGE BOX! *smack*
Although I no longer have my Speak and Spell, (I do still have my Speak and Maths,) and although it didn’t correctly pronounce all of the words, I do still think of it as one of my favourite toys ever.