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Memories of Magic Wand Speaking Reader (Speak and Learn)

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Thread to talk about Magic Wand Speaking Reader. My personal memories of my dad, who worked on it in 1981. I’ll share what I know about its history, implementation, on collecting the books, and other uses for it like interfacing to the 4A and its use as assistive technology. 



Joerg has already compiled a fantastic amount of information on datamath.org.  Read that for background. 


I found many TI internal documents in my dad’s papers. He worked on the MWSR in 1981 and kept supporting it.  Even trying to license  it from TI (two of his business plan memos within TI.) Years later, he said it was the career experience he most treasured. 

Here is a  pocket guide listing the MWSR books. I had never seen the starred releases, except one in pre-print. I started watching for the later books. 




There are longer descriptions in the 12-page booklet on datamath.org


One title, Wings Wheels and Waves, I see in a Phrase Library listing in the users guide for Texas Tech’s  990 speech lab.


That phrase library looks like  sample data from all over.  including coding tables, chirp, later some Moon Mine phrases (“Monstruo Destruido!”) The user  manual was written by my dad and installed on a 990 at Texas Tech for class work. Probably contained the same software as TI’s speech lab. 

Texas Tech is in Lubbock TX, where TI had a large semiconductor plant, and where consumer products engineering was based. I suppose the speech lab was part of a course.

In the Texas Tech library, I once saw shelves full of books on speech technology. (University of North Texas near Dallas has even more.) 


Curiously, I found a business card of Granville Ott. He was an early advocate for the Home Computer in TI’s Office of Strategic Something. The OSS in Richardson TX headquarters. 

The back of the card says “Al Olson will deliver the guest lecture in my place.” Directions to ENGR classroom in Petroleum Building, I guess at  Texas Tech.


Also, Texas Tech library had a room full of TI-99/4As. About  25 fully expanded systems with 10” color monitor. That was where I first attended the Lubbock Users Group in 1983 and saw Zork 1.  

Here are two photos of later Magic Wand books which I bought:


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Pretty cool. I guess they must still be popular with small children, judging by the number of readers and books on Ebay for non-trivial prices. I don't think TI still sells them (or do they?)  but is there anything comparable being sold today?


I'd hate to be the grinch who did a teardown on one, so do you have any details or photos of the innards?

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