Basic Fun is working on a remake of the popular ’80s children’s gadget — the Speak & Spell. This revival version will retain some of the old elements of the original but will add some modern features found in modern-day gadgets.
The Retro Gadget
While it looks ancient as compared to current gadgets, Speak & Spell amazed everyone during an era when talking devices are considered ultra-futuristic.
Speak & Spell first made an appearance at the CES 1978. Then manufactured by Texas Instruments, the toy features expansion cartridges, electronic display, and a speech synthesis engine that boasts a library of more than 200 words.
The gadget was considered ahead of its time and was even powered by TMS1000, one of the earliest microprocessors available. This TMS chip — with technology from 1978 — is responsible for storing Speak & Spell’s selection of words.
As technology progressed, the Speak & Spell was eventually phased out in the ’90s.
Speak & Spell’s Resurrection
Gadgets from the yesteryears have been making a comeback. Case in point: Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original NES, which the company launched in 2016.
Now, Basic Fun is doing the same by bringing back Speak & Spell. The new version will remain faithful to the design of the original, keeping the yellow and orange color, the device’s bulky size, and the keyboard. It’ll also still have the games from the ’80s version. However, while it retains the original’s segment display, it’ll be built using today’s modern LCDs
Another noticeable difference in Basic Fun’s modern take is the device’s voice command. Compared to the older version, the modern Speak & Spell will have “additional voice commands that give brief instructions as you switch between each game mode,” according to Gizmodo.
The new Speak & Spell will be out this fall and will sell for $25.