Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Computer Voices and the song "Daisy Bell"

I've been reading about artificial intelligence and computer voices lately, and I came across these videos on Youtube. The first video involves a clip from Arthur C. Clarke's "2001: A Space Odyssey". Remember the scene where Hal is deactivated? As his memory cards are being pulled, Hal's personality regresses to his "childhood" days in the computer Lab in Urbana Illinois. He sings a song he leaned there. The song was "Daisy Bell".

It seems that song was used for an historical reason:

The video (1 minute and 39 seconds) claims that a computer in the 1950's was the first computer ever to sing a song. The song was "Daisy Bell".

But another video gets more specific. It says that the first computer to sing a song was in 1961. It was an IBM 7094. The video (1 minute and 51 seconds) gives a sample of the song, with computerized musical accompaniment too, and also gives the names of the programmers who created it:

Another video (with no embedded option) shows a photo of the computer (?) with and audio track of it's voice and singing repertoire:

Listening to all this reminds me of my Commodore 64 days. Does anyone remember "The Write Stuff", a Commodore 64 word processor released in 1987 by Busy Bee Software? It could read documents with a computer voice that was very similar to the one in these videos. My Busy Bee software could even sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". It was both funny and painful to listen to.

Nowadays, computer voice technology is so much more advanced. There are a growing number of realistic sounding computer voices, and an abundance of free or inexpensive TTS (Text-T0-Speech) programs to go with them. And Hal-like computer programs to go with those voices are fast approaching, too.

Oh Brave New World, with such people (and artificial-people) in it!

Related Links:

Artificial voice synthesis, 1939 to the present

Ultra HAL, your personal computer assistant

The history and lyrics of the song "Daisy Bell"

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At Wed May 14, 06:50:00 AM 2014, Blogger Ron Starc said...

Here is a good page with other text to speech voices you can use on your own PC.


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