TI talking learning aid sets pace for innovative CES introductions

Find here the original press release dated June 11, 1978:

CHICAGO, June 11, 1978

Innovative learning aids for children, including one that talks, compact powerful calculators for home and office, and multi-function digital timepieces with long life batteries for men and women were among a dozen products introduced by Texas Instruments Incorporated at the Summer Consumer Electronics Show, June 11-14.

The talking learning aid is called Speak & Spell™. An outgrowth of TI's basic research in synthetic speech, the product is designed to help children seven and up learn how to spell and pronounce more than 200 commonly misspelled words. Solid State Speech™ is an entirely new concept which stores words in a solid-state memory much like a calculator stores numbers.

Also introduced in TI's new Learning Center™ product group were Spelling B™, a silent mate to Speak & Spell that helps children six and up learn spelling, and First Watch™, which teaches five to seven-year-olds to read any timepiece, whether digital or analog (with hands).

Adult timepieces displayed at CES include three high fashion men's LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) watches using a new long life zinc-air battery; three Personalized Watches with LED (Light Emitting Diode) displays for men and women, and a compact, seven function LCD digital Travel Alarm.

In calculators, a slimline, scientific pocket calculator, a highly-styled low-cost LCD calculator and one of the smallest, lightest printer/display calculators on the market rounded out new products shown by TI.

Speak & Spell

Speak & Spell employs an entirely new concept in speech reproduction. Unlike tape recorders and pull-string phonograph records used in recent years in many "speaking" toys, TI' Solid State Speech circuitry has no moving parts. When it is told to say something, it draws a word from memory, processes it through an integrated circuit model of a human vocal tract and then speaks electronically. In its main mode of operation, Speak & Spell randomly selects a word and pronounces it in standard American English. A child presses the unit's alphabetic keys to spell the word, which appears, letter by letter, on an eight-character display screen. Right answers earn verbal and visual praise; wrong answers receive patient encouragement to try again. A number of games are offered to intrigue children of all ages.

Speak & Spell, available next month, has a suggested retail price of $50.

Spelling B

Spelling B, a handheld learning aid, uses a colorful picture book to help teach children six years old and up how to spell via word/picture association. A child uses a randomly generated number to find the corresponding object in the book, and spells the object's name by pressing Spelling B's alphabet keys. Spelling B indicates right or wrong plus keeps score. Special pre-spelling activities for younger children include "Starts With," a game in which the child simply enters a word's first letter. Additional learning games such as "Mystery Word" and "Scramble" are included for older children.

Spelling B, to be shipped in September, has a suggested retail price of $30.

First Watch

First Watch, developed to teach five to seven-year-olds to read any watch or clock, includes a colorful LED watch, Hands of Time™ learning dial and a four-color "how-to" book that tells about timekeeping from caveman to space age and offers games selected for educational value and fun.

TI's First Watch, with a suggested retail price of $19.95, is scheduled for availability this month.

Long-Life LCD Watches

Three LCD watches, in gold and chromium-plated models, are expected to be among the first on the market to use zinc-air batteries, which promise three-year battery life (with typical use). Included are a five-function model 458, which provides hours, minutes, seconds, month and date; a six-function 461, which adds day-of-week and AM/PM indication; and a seven-function 471 which adds a stopwatch.

Tritium backlighting illuminates digits continuously for nigh visibility, and a variety of attractively designed dials add a note of high fashion.

Prices for the three LDC watches are: $55 (458), $65 (461) and $80 (471) in gold; $45 (458), $55 (461) and $70 (471) in chromium. First shipments are scheduled this month.

Personalized Watches

Stylish Personalized Watches, with LED displays, are offered in two men's and one ladies' model. All come with 30 gold letters that can be applied to watch bands or case in any combination.

The men's Personalized Watches, in black, carry a suggested retail price of $14.95 and $16.95. A smaller women's model, in tortoise-styled brown, has a suggested retail price of $16.95. All are scheduled to be available this month.

Travel Alarm

A lightweight TI-2010 digital Travel Alarm is a seven function clock that folds into its compact black plastic and brushed chrome case. The clock face has large, easy-to-read LCD numerals that show hours and minutes. Month and date, day and seconds are displayed when a touch-bar on top is pressed. Pressing the bar also turns on a backlight for night viewing.

The TI-2010 Travel Alarm, with a $30 suggested retail price, is slated for availability in August.

Scientific Calculator

Slimline TI-50™ offers over 60 calculator functions, including algebra, logarithms, trigonometry and statistics. TI-50 also includes two full arithmetic memories with a new Constant Memory™ feature, TI's unique AOS™ (Algebraic Operating System) and APD™ (Automatic Power Down).

The TI-50's Constant Memory - first on any TI calculator - retains whatever has been entered in memory until it is cleared, whether the unit is "on" or "off."

The TI-50 has a suggested retail price of $35 and is scheduled for first deliveries in August.

Low-Cost Thinline

Slimline TI-1030 calculator offers an easy-to-read LCD display, a four-key memory and six standard functions (add, subtract, multiply, divide, percent, square root). Packaged in an attractive brown case with brushed metal overlay, it weighs less than 2.5 ounces.

Slimline TI-1030, scheduled to be available in July, has a $15.95 suggested retail price.

Handheld Printer/Display

TI-5025 is a rechargeable handheld printer/display calculator with four-key memory. It features a quiet thermal printer and a large vacuum-fluorescent display that also can be used without the printer. Five functions include addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and percent.

TI-5025, scheduled for August delivery, has a suggested retail price of $80.

Major Merchandising Program

Integral to TI's educational products announced at CES is a new Learning Center merchandising concept that is being introduced in retail stores nationally for this fall's back-to-school season.

TI's Learning Center comprises five educational electronic products, including the new Speak & Spell, Spelling B and First Watch, plus the previously available Little Professor and Dataman.

The unique learning aids, collectively, are designed to help teach children spelling, time and mathematics. Each product was designed with the guidance of leading educators. The products all have a fun, game-playing element as well.

Leading TI's back-to-school Learning Center promotion is a major national television schedule on all three networks. Another TV advertising program is scheduled before the Christmas holidays.

Backing up television commercials will be retail displays and an advertising kit containing suggested ad copy, line art and a 60-second radio commercial.