I admit it: I'm a total geek. I love electronics, programming, 3D art, vintage Apple hardware, and whisky. I'm always juggling half a dozen projects. I also enjoy documenting it all: my successes, my failures, my experiences... and everything geeky along the way.

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Speak & Spell: Keepin' it Old School! | Kevin Rye.net - Main

Kevin Rye

Geek Extraordinaire. Yeh, I said it.

Speak & Spell: Keepin' it Old School!

My kids got iPad minis for Christmas. They absolutely love them. They never put them down.

I figured they’d get a kick out of my Speak & Spell. I’ve had it sitting in a box for decades. It’s too bad it’s missing a key.


I wanted them to see that the Speak & Spell was my iPad of the day and that as simple as it was, it was as good as it got. Maybe they’ll appreciate technology a little more when they can see how far we’ve come. I know that’s a pretty hard concept for a 9 and a 6 year old to grasp, but I can dream.

The original retail price of the Speak & Spell was $50. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but that was 1978! In adjusted dollars that’s $178 bucks! Pretty pricey for a one-trick pony.


I don’t know if they’re all dated 1978, but mine is. It might possibly be an original. I think my parents gave it to me before E.T. made it famous.

As far as the inside, there’s actually more to it than I expected. Did they seriously use the speaker as a heatsink for the transformer? I guess they did. Whatever’s clever.

I’d love to take the whole board out and look at the logic, but it’s connected to the keypad which is in turn connected to the housing by some pretty fragile-looking clips. I might destroy the whole thing attempting to take it out. Since this is one of the few remaining, if not the only, toys from my childhood that I didn’t take apart, I’m inclined to leave it be. It’s safe to assume I won’t be “circuit-bending” this guy any time soon.


I let the kids play around with it. They had some fun. It was short-lived, but they did get a kick out of.