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There were many individuals who contributed to the success of the Speak N Spell. This list should show the breadth of capabilities needed to successfully take the Speak N Spell from an idea to a product on the retailer's shelf.

Exhaustive list of people who worked on the Speak N Spell program

It is important to acknowledge as many of the individuals as possible who contributed to the success of the Speak N Spell program. Here is that list.

Original team

  • Paul Breedlove: Paul was the originator of the idea and was the original Program Manager for the Speak&Spell™.
  • Richard Wiggins: Richard was responsible for developing the speech synthesis algorithm used in Speak&Spell™ and for the software that produced the data used to generate the spoken words using the speech synthesis Integrated Circuit.
  • Larry Brantingham: Larry was responsible for the architecture of the four Integrated Circuits used in the Speak&Spell™. Together Richard and Larry created the world’s first Digital Speech Synthesis device.
  • Gene Frantz: Gene was responsible for the system design and became the Program Manager after Paul was moved to another program. He also was responsible for taking the Speak&Spell™ into production.


  • George Doddington: Head of the Speech Research laboratory, part of the Central Research Laboratories (CRL), at TI. Richard reported to him. The first demonstration of the Speak N Spell used George’s voice. He would have done well as the production voice but it was decided to hire a professional speaker rather than an internal individual.
  • Gene Helms: I called him “Gene Helms the elder”. He was head of the Corporate Engineering Center (CEC), a sister organization to the Central Research Laboratory (CRL).
  • Gene Helms: I called him “Gene Helms the lesser”. He worked with Richard to develop the various software systems that processed speech data and generated and optimized the ROM data that generated the high quality speech from small amounts of data.

Product Development

  • W. R. Hawkins: Mechanical engineering manager. When it seemed appropriate, I reported to him or he reported to me.
  • Richard Chang: Designed the plastic case. Richard reported to W. R. After the program was over, Richard moved back to Dallas to get his doctorate degree from SMU.
  • Ajay Puri: Electrical engineer who reported to me. He later left TI and got his MBA at Harvard University. One of the case studies he had to read was the one on the Speak N Spell.
  • Gene Sulik: Industrial design. Gene was responsible for the concept design
  • Glen Thornton: Responsible for writing the software on the TMC0271 and formatting the ROMs to pack the necessary data for the product to work.
  • Jim Moore: Jim was Paul’s boss and collaborated with Paul to invent the Speak N Spell idea.

Speech Processing

  • Kathy Goudie Marshall: Speech linguist
  • Mai Vinson: French speech editor
  • Uta: German speech editor
  • Vicki Smith: English speech editor
  • Doug Wickey: English speech editor
  • Mary Marimontes: Spanish speech editor

IC Design

  • K. Bala: IC design manager in Houston
  • Alva Henderson: Architecture team in Lubbock. Alva built the three simulators that were used for the software development and many product demonstrations. Alva reported to Larry.

Production start up

  • Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell: Mitch was the Product Engineering Manager in Midland Texas where we ramped the Speak N Spell into production.
  • Ron Shelly: Ron was a Vice President. As I remember he was in charge of manufacturing. He later became my boss. I still think of him with great respect.
  • Ron Web: Ron was the quality control manager for the Consumer Group.
  • Dick Jensen: Dick was the quality control engineer that took the preproduction devices and qualified the product before shipping. He helped us through several significant issues including key breakage, static discharge failure and drop test failures.

Market development

  • Alecia Helton: Alecia was responsible for the educational soundness of Speak N Spell and the children's books that accompanied the product.  She described what she did during the recording and verification process to assure correct pronunciation as "maximizing the intelligibility of the synthesized speech within the technical parameters".  
  • Ralph A. Oliva: Marketing Communications Manager and Alecia's boss.  Ralph had overall responsibility for the marketing communications and advertising programs for Speak N Spell.
  • Bryce Armstrong: Original voice to demonstrate various personalities of the product.
  • Hank Carr: The voice of the Speak N Spell. He had a “boring” LPC voice just like George Doddington and me (Gene).
  • William Kottmeyer: Spelling expert who provided the vocabulary list.

Corporate Support

  • Andrew Dillon: Patent Lawyer
  • Robert Marshall: Patent Lawyer
  • Wally Rhines: Calculator Division IC design manager
  • Fred Bucy: TI’s CEO
  • George Heilmeyer: TI’s CTO
  • Bill Sick: One of the Calculator Division Business Managers during the time of the development.
  • Ron Richie: One of the Calculator Division Business Managers during the time of the development.

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Source:  OpenStax, The speak n spell. OpenStax CNX. Jan 31, 2014 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11501/1.5
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