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Thread: speech plus prose 2000 8086 based speech synth.

  1. #1

    Default speech plus prose 2000 8086 based speech synth.

    So, I've managed to get my hands on a Speech Plus rack mount speech synthesizer, 1980something. It has an 8086 cpu, RS 232 for comms and turns out to be the first speech synthesizer that Steven hawking used.

    I've been unable to find any documentation or software for it. Can anybody help?

  2. Default

    Dear Roberttx

    I led the development of that board. It's the one used by Steven Hawking. Eric Dorsey (my neighbor) has the software and manuals.
    Are you still interested in it?

  3. #3


    Hi Jared

    Wow, that's a blast from the past! I had almost given up on making any progress with this but, yes, I do still have it and I am still interested.

    Assuming that Eric doesn't want to part with the originals, do you think that it might be possible to get copies, please?

    For my part, I'll try to post some pictures over the next day or two.

  4. #4


    Time to make this thread active, again. I exchanged emails with Jared and we were able to confirm some things, but I kept getting distracted by other things and progress was on-again off-again.

    The sad news of Prof Hawking's passing prompted me to start thinking about this, again and I got in touch with Eric Dorsey. He was able to give me scans of some manuals, so I might now be able to make some progress.

    It's controlled by commands issued over RS232 so I'll try using a terminal emulator to talk to it. There'll be some trial and error with Baud rates and protocols first, I imagine.

    Eric also pointed me to a fascinating article that was published today, in the SF chronicle. It's well worth a read:

  5. #5


    I also own a Prose 2020 (I actually have two of the Prose 2000 cards, one sadly ripped from a Kurzweil Reading Machine which I would have loved to restore, I'm not sure if the latter card works), and would be very interested in any information or documentation (or historical development anecdotes) you have. (manuals, schematics, source code, historical and technical information like memory maps... anything! Pretty much all the information I have about the Prose 2000/2020 comes from the Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project, and that information is sadly very limited. All the other information I have on the Prose 2000/2020 comes from probing the hardware with a logic analyzer, and looking at the ROM and DSP contents.)

    I do know that the Prose 2000/2020 'engine' was re-engineered as the CallText 5010 ISA card at some point (and Stephen Hawking mostly used these latter cards because they were easy to transport, though originally he used a Prose 2000/2020), any information about these cards would also be very welcome.

    I can't believe I overlooked this thread, I've been hunting for info about these cards for YEARS!

    What do the codes on the 4 diagnostic LEDs mean, for instance?

    I'm very excited!



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