In the period from 1985 to 1995 Commodore Amiga audio was of much greater quality than other standard home computers. Eventually the PC world evolved to affordable 16-bit audio cards in the early ’90s. But the Commodore Amiga was one of the first Home computers to include built-in speech synthesis in 1985. Packaged with Workbench 1.3 was a program called ‘Say‘, which was little more than a simple CLI box that allowed the user to enter text, which the Amiga would then ‘speak’.

This could be broken into three main components: narrator.device, which could enunciate phonemes expressed as ARPABET, translator.library which could translate English text to American English phonemes, and the SPEAK: handler, which any application including the command-line could redirect output to, to have it spoken. Reading SPEAK: as it is producing speech will return two numbers which are the size ratio of the width and height of a mouth producing the phoneme being spoken. The speak handler was not just a curiosity, or a gorgeous demonstration of capabilities of Amiga. In fact, the word processor ProWrite since its version 3.2 was able to read an entire document using the speech synthesizer for the benefit of blind users.

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