How to Use
- The Speak & Spell is by nature a auditory device, so I recommend enabling audio by clicking the icon in the upper-left. If you leave it off, captions will be shown instead.
- It starts on, and clicking the "on" button again always takes you back to the main screen.
- Press any letter A through D to select the difficulty level.
- Press "Go" to start the Spell It game. Spell the word with your keyboard. After you spell a word, press Enter (or click the button in the lower right).
- Keyboard input is not captured if an element is focused. Each time a button is clicked, the element is automatically un-focused to allow keyboard capture again.
- Play the Mystery Word game (hangman) by pressing the "?" button.
- Use the "#" button to switch between modules and built-in words.
Creation and Evolution
The image of the Speak & Spell on this page was the original inspiration for the project. If memory serves, I found myself looking at one of the patents hoping for clues which would help me to produce a "circuit bent" version of one of my Texas Instruments toys. I have not only my childhood Speak & Spell, but also a Speak & Math ("you've got my number!") and a Speak & Read. The Speak & Read being my least favorite and therefore most sacrificial, I had opened it up and was systematically connecting each pair of points on the circuit hoping for some cool effects. I have always wished to know more about electronics, and my level of knowledge and equipment did not afford me any more sophisticated techniques. That project never went anywhere, but when I saw the image of the Speak & Spell from the patent application, I knew I had a fun idea for reworking my ugly duckling of a programmer's website. Now, I can say with reasonable confidence that it is the only non-Flash online Speak & Spell, as well as the most faithful to the original!
It was not until I found Furrtek's page about creating a custom module for the Speak & Spell that I realized that the order of the words given in the "Spell It" mode might be deterministic. His mention of the RSCRAM routine sent me off into the code from the patent (the source code is more easily readable there than in the earlier US4189779A) as well as his linked page about the TMS1000 opcodes.
After reading the opcodes in the RSCRAM routine, it was clear that relative to whatever random word was selected as the start of the ten-word sequence, the words were actually used in the following sequence of indexes: 6, 7, 5, 8, 9, 2, 0, 1, 3, 4. To my delight, my Speak and Spell exhibited this behavior experimentally. Therefore, I set out to determine the real underlying word order so that I could produce a more accurate simulation. I started by running through up to ten games of "Spell It" in order to determine the full order of words for a certain level. Later, I was able to strategically select 5-6 games to achieve the same result. In this time-consuming way, I eventually determined the underlying order of the build-in word lists as well as those in the "Noun Endings" module.
If you're looking for a cool party trick which will earn you points with the ladies and/or guys, enter the first word of your "Spell It" session here. If my simulator knows the word, it will output the full sequence of words that will come next (sometimes a word appears in the list twice, so there are two possible sequences). You'll look like a regular Nostradamus.
Simulator or Emulator
My Speak & Spell
My trusty, reliable Speak & Spell is a USA version with membrane keyboard and gold "Texas Instruments" lettering in the lower right of the display, indicating that it is a Type 2 model manufactured some time between 1980 and 1986. It is serial number LTA2884.