Forgotten Voice

Doug Glading
Work Station Development
1985 - 87
Date Joined:
Date Left:
Drunken Swedes

Over the period 1985-7 I was working for the Hursley offshoot called Work Station Development at Stoneham Lane, Eastleigh. We were trying to take the "PC Voice Communications Option" card developed in the US for the US (as was the habit) and adapt it for the non-US market. (As the card included telephony and modem capabilities, this was very difficult…).

But the card also included fairly unique (in those days) capabilities to understand and use spoken commands, and to convert text to synthetic speech. All this functionality was pretty novel back in those days. I used to do a lot of customer seminars, trying to get people to think about the potential of these technologies. Demonstrating “Text-To-Speech” (TTS) was obviously an interesting part of this. The quality of the speech produced was of course not that great. My standard joke, which I possibly repeated, was that it “sounded like a drunken Swede”.

During one afternoon customer session two guys in the front row did not look very happy at all. I asked their IBM rep afterwards why this was. He explain that:

  • They were Swedish
  • They had indeed had ‘ a very good lunch’ before the session…….