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ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast

hosts: Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold
twitter: @AtariPodcast
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Dec 2, 2015

Forrest Mozer, Pioneer in Digitized Speech

Forrest Mozer invented and patented the first integrated circuit speech synthesizer in 1974. He licensed this technology to TeleSensory Systems, which used it in the Speech+ talking calculator. Later, National Semiconductor also licensed the technology, used for its "DigiTalker" speech synthesizer.

In 1984, Mozer founded Electronic Speech Systems to develop and market speech synthesis products. In 1994, Mozer and his son Todd, founded Sensory Circuits, Inc., now Sensory, Inc., where they developed the RSC-164 speech recognition integrated circuit.  Mozer has 17 US patents in the areas of speech synthesis and speech recognition.

Electronic Speech Systems did the work to add digitized speech to several games for the Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64 computers. You can hear digitized speech created by ESS in the Atari versions of Kennedy Approach by MicroProse, 221B Baker Street by Datasoft, and Ghostbusters by Activision.

The Atari versions often had fewer spoken phrases than the Commodore 64 ports of the same games — probably due to the Atari’s smaller amount of RAM and floppy disk capacity vs. the C64. For instance, The Atari version of Ghostbusters says the title, but leaves out “He slimed me!” Commodore talking games - thanks to ESS - also included — among others — Talking Teacher by Imagic, Solo Flight by MicroProse, Friday the 13th by Domark, Desert Fox by Accolade, and Impossible Mission by Epyx.

Thanks to Mark Keates for extensive background information for this interview. Keates has created a pair of demos for the Atari, in which he ported the Commodore 64 digitized speech from Ghostbusters and Impossible Mission to play on the Atari computers.

This interview took place on September 14, 2015.

Teaser quote:

“You spent a long time. You spent — to produce a minute of speech, you would spend ... it would be many hours of work.”


Wikipedia on Mozer:

Article about Access Software, speech in Beach-Head:

Interview with Dennis Caswell of Impossible Mission:

Aiming High - A Biography of Masayoshi Son:

Ghostbusters audio clips:

Impossible Mission audio clips


seven and a half years ago

It cool to consider speech compression of the communication in the podcast has a relation to Mozers work.

Jani Launonen
seven and a half years ago

Interesting stuff - I did a speech compression as a lab project for embedded systems course in university, so the subject was little bit familiar for me. Back in the day, when the home computers did first digitized speech effects, it rendered me speechless. For me the Mission Impossible speech during start of a game still brings lots of memories and raises hair in my neck.