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Hear a Newton speak


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It's not my recording, but discovering and listening to the online clip the other day finally inspired me (after some 12 years as a Newton user!) to install the macintal.pkg, talktome.pkg, and speaktex.pkg files and give it a shot. I haven't yet put any of it on my MP2100, but on an eMate, where I am surprised by the quality of the sound, with headphones especially. With headphones the volume is plenty loud, and the volume bar controls the output perfectly. Through the built-in speaker, on the other hand, the sound is basically either off or on, with almost no volume control.

 

Still, who'd have thought that that little eMate's processor could pull it off, eh? No slowing of the system, either.

 

Unna's files and some of the others do not seem to say so, but having experimented with the possibilities, I can report that Apple's own Speaktex.pkg works far better than the TalktoMe.pkg (the latter came originally from Tactile Software) as a companion to the codec (macintal.pkg). So you only need the macintal and speaktex packages. Speaktex allows you to change the voice pitch, so that the standard Apple voices (e.g., Ralph) can be made much deeper, as in the clip referenced, or indeed Helium high if that turns your crank. TalktoMe also works, certainly, but control of pitch etc. in particular is missing from it, and the text-to-speech feature also stops working if you try to do anything else at the same time (remember, a Newt. should pre-emptively multitask). Speaktex does not suffer from this limitation.

 

Oh how I wish the Newton platform had never been discontinued! All that stuff you read about Apple's lack of technical innovation in the mid-90s just ain't true. There was innovation galore in the invention and development of the pda, but it was killed off and nobody remembers it.

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