Scene: a junk shop on the east side of town. Your blogger is waiting for the owner to name a price for a sound recording he found in the back in a box he wasn't supposed to go through (he hadn't known that, though). The dealer is going through every possible word combination on eBay in the hopes of finding a listing (and a price), though by now it's obvious there isn't one. Still, she searches. And searches. Lee correctly figures that she's stalling. Finally--"What's it worth to you?"
I'm willing to pay ten bucks. "Five dollars," I reply. "Ten, and it's yours." "O.K." Deal done. (I hate mind-reading dealers! Just kidding--she was quite cool. And savvy.)
And what a record. A magazine-insert 33 1/3 with three bands, lasting all of two minutes, and cooler than heck:
So, here's the scoop: a longer version of this Bell Telephone Laboratories record was released in 1963 on a 7" 45. Which, I found out by Googling, can be heard at Otis Fodder's 365 Days Project. (Under "Computer Speech")
And a copy of the 1963 45 recently sold on eBay for $40-something.
However.... My magazine-insert record is from 1961. So there. And it seems to have a different narrator.
Explains the back of the insert: "The samples of speech on this recording were produced by an electronic digital computer. They are a by-product of a research project at Bell Telephone Laboratories to obtain a better understanding of the nature of speech."
"Each speech sound is specified on a separate punched card," it continues. A series of cards are fed into a "high-speed, general purpose computer," and the synthesized speech is recorded onto half-inch magnetic tape, after which the tape "is fed to another machine which converts the digital information to a variable magnetic sound track suitable for playing on an ordinary tape recorder playback." See? Simple as pie.
Band 1 is entitled "The computer speaking." 2 is "The computer reciting a soliloquy from Hamlet." 3 is "The computer singing." Just wait until you hear what it's singing! (Cue the 2001 title music):
Synthesized Speech--Produced by Bell Telephone Laboratories, 1961. From magazine-insert 33 1/3 RPM disc.
That was COOL.
Well, I think, anyway. And it's possible I have a less common version of an already uncommon record. Whatever. It's cool. I daresay, it's HAL-acious.
I hope you en-joyed that re-cord.