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Thread: VOTRAX Type-'N-Talk

  1. #1

    Default VOTRAX Type-'N-Talk

    Does anyone have an old hardware Text To Speech Synthesizer?

    If so do they use it with Win XP?

    I have recently bought a Votrax Type-'N-Talk.

    It conects to the computer via a 25pin serial port.

    I want to conect it to my laptops 9 pin serial port via an adaptor.

    I also need software to be able to control it.

    If anyone has any advice that would be great.

    I've been all over the internet trying to find clues but because it's such an old (1981) bit of gear there's not a lot of info on how to use the Type-'N-Talk with a modern PC.

    I really want to get it woking as I love the sound of this old machine

    I would really appreciate your help with this


    I saw this recently:


    o Operates on all IBM Personal System/2 models and selected models of
    the PC family (IBM PC/XT, IBM PC/XT-286, IBM PC/AT)

    o Runs on IBM DOS 3.3 or later versions

    below is some info from the manual:

    An Inside Look
    It all starts at your computer or terminal. Information, in the form of ASCII characters is sent through an RS-232C serial interface and into Type 'n Talk (TNT). This information is fed through very quickly - faster than the synthesizer could say the words. So a buffer has been inserted at the input to collect the information so it can be slowly dispersed as the words are spoken (your printer works in a similar fashion). From the buffer, the data is sent to a text-to-speech translator, that decides how the words you typed will be pronounced. From the translator, the information is sent to a voice synthesis chip. This chip creates a series of hissing, pocking, clicking, humming and other strange sounds that combine to form human speech. These sounds are sent through an internal amplifier and then to your speaker.

    No special hardware modifications or devices are required to connect TNT to your computer system. However, you do need a standard RS-232C serial interface and cable. Up to eight TNTs can be connected to one computer system, and each can be independently addressed. This is particularly helpful in the classroom. You must make two other connections to complete your TNT set up: one for power supply cable (included) and the other for the speaker connection. You can connect TNT to any 8-ohm speaker or wire it into your hi-fi if the on-board 1-watt amp isn't strong enough for your needs (TNT does not have an internal speaker). You must also select the baud rate. A series of small switches on the back of TNT controls the rate from 75 to 9600 baud. The data buffer built into TNT is capable of holding 750 bytes, or about one minute of speech. At 9600 baud, this buffer takes less than one second to fill. So while TNT is speaking, your computer is free to do other tasks.

  2. #2


    I would get the appropriate adapter for the serial connection, and experiment with it. Use the original DOS software (on a DOS) machine to figure out how it works. Then you can determine if it works on newer machines, or even other operating systmes.

    It sounds pretty simple - just feed it words using the serial port and it speaks.

  3. #3


    I have a Votrax Type n Talk as well, but have yet to put it through its paces. I'm anxious to though, but not necessarily with a modern PC.
    Bill Loguidice, Author
    Managing Director, Armchair Arcade
    About Me

  4. #4


    My guess is that you might need to connect it to a standard COM port, and then feed it data through HyperTerminal [or another software that speaks directly to the COM port - I use Com 7.6].
    In some cases, you won't be able to work with the COM port directly [depending on your system configuration] so you might need a driver called DLPortIO [you can easily find it with Google]. My system had trouble connecting to my parallel LCD and my SparcStation5 on the serial port until I installed that driver.
    Other than that, experimenting is the key.

    One more thing: depending on what your Votrax does internally, you may need to short a couple of pins on the serial connector, so you can fool your software into thinking that there is something actually connected [that reffers to "handshaking" and not all old devices do that properly to fool new software]. You can also find the proper details by googling for "null modem"

    Good luck
    Acoustiq / eXiGe - Still under construction...

  5. #5


    Thanks for the reply guys - I will try and take things further with your advice - However I am still looking for more people out there who use the type'Ntalk and would like very much to hear how they use it within there system.

  6. #6

    Default Votrax Type n Talk Speech Synthesizer

    Is anybody interested in purchasing a Votrax Type n Talk Speech Synthesizer? I currently own one and can't figure out how he hell to use this dinosaur! It comes in the original box w/ power supply, manual, and an rs-232 adapter (DB25 to USB). "Handshaking", "dummy wire", "Baud rate" , "hyperterminal", WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS MEAN??????????!!!!!!!!

    Anyway, please contact me if interested or know of anybody interested.
    I'm from Connecticut, USA

  7. #7

    Default Votrax up and running in XP!

    I have recently worked on one of these units and got it running under XP using a USB-DB25 adapter and a little breakout box to change the pinouts. I would be happy to provide any advise or even offer one of these devices if you need it. It works smooth with Hyperterminal once you put this adapter in the line.


  8. #8

    Default Votrax up and running in XP!

    Oh! Found an breakoutbox w jumpers. Please share how to connect the pins correctly. Read about people damaging their computers badly when trying to connect old votrax with "straight" cables.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Toronto ON Canada


    Pretty unlikely that you'd cause any damage unless you plugged it into the printer port; the serial ports are designed to handle that kind of thing.

    I use mine to announce the Caller ID name & number of incoming phone calls; in the old days I had one on a BBS system to announce people's names as they logged in.

  10. #10

    Default 25 pin to 9 pin Serial Cable


    I noticed a few of you are using a break out box and a 25 PIN to USB adapter.

    I am trying to make my own 25 pin to 9 pin Serial Cable.

    I have one problem though. There is no Protective Ground on a 9 pin serial plug (PIN 1 on 25 PIN plug).

    Do you think it will still work if I wire without one?


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