⌊ Alien Group Voice Box ⌉

The standard package that shipped for the Commodore 64 including the user-port hardware and documentation

Speech synthesis is a concept that landed relatively early in the micro computer landscape and some would say it really did not serve a great purpose other than to display that these early machines could actually achieve the feat. Ironically the majority of the earlier boxes contained external hardware to actually generate the phonemes associated with human speech rather than relying on sound capabilities contained in the actual micro-computer itself.

This is the animated character that “sings” in time with the output from the SID chip. The face / graphics can be edited for each frame or vowel sound.

This is the SID configuration screen which allows you to alter the format of each oscillator in relation to the speech component of the Voicebox.

Alien Group was in fact a subsidiary of Electro Harmonix (yes the guitar FX pedal company run by Mike Matthews) who had hoped to branch out to micro computers for interesting sound devices. It would seem that the Voice Box was primarily marketed at the Atari market but a version was made for the Commodore64.

The interface itself is quite a sturdy and reliable build that uses the Commodore 64 user port and has a separate audio out from the box itself (mini jack) with a volume control and a speaker built in to the unit in addition. The software however is presumably all in basic, and is nigh on impossible to be classed as functional yet for 1982 / 1983 this not an unusual concept will a total lack of GUI. The chip used for the speech itself is the Votrax SC-01A .

Custom edited graphic of the standard “face”
Displaying how you can
“play” a pre loaded lyric / phrase using a musical keyboard.
Bootup screen of a version of the software provided by Saj Awan

This is the main index of the demo songs that accompany the program, a mixture of speech and music with some plain musical pieces also.

Below are all of the example songs recorded directly from a real SID chip and the speech directly from the Voicebox device.

Let It Be
When I’m Sixty Four
Come All Ye Faithful
Pa Clampett
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Yankee Doodle
Hava Nagilah
Ma Blonde
Star Spangled Banner
Bless ’em All
Ocean Blue
Blue Danube
Island In the Sun
Silver Threads

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