[Coladam] clearing up the mystery...

Rich Drushel drushel at apk.net
Tue Jun 16 02:03:41 CEST 2009

On Mon, June 15, 2009 5:24 pm, Joe Blenkle wrote:

> While on the subject of old ADAM stuff...I'm still looking for documentaion
> for the Eve Speech Synthesizer. I had even contacted Hank Szretter awhile back
> and he promised to see if he could come up with a copy, but he never got back
> to me again. Anyone got any?

     Since Rin is moving here on the 22nd, I have been sorting through
all the stuff in the apartment spare bedroom that was just moved out of the
basement of the house 4 years ago en masse, and much of which had not been
touched since the last ADAMcon that I brought significant amounts of my
ADAM hardware to (namely, ADAMcon 13).  The first task is to get through
all of the boxes and discard all the junk.  "Junk" does not mean any ADAM
stuff, fear not.  But once everything is out in the open, I can pack it
away more logically and more compactly.

     I thus expect to gain access to a fair amount of documentation that
I collected over the years, most especially when I was working on SB1.x
and also the various things I did for HLM-GMK (hard disk stuff, ADAMlink V).
Plus Richard Clee's entire newsletter collection (which he generously placed
in my care a few years ago).

     Off the top of my head, places that might have documentation on the
Eve Speech Synthesizer:

(1)  NIAD newsletter

(2)  Nibbles and Bits (Sol Swift's newsletter; I have at least one complete
set, maybe 2)

(3)  The ADAM Survival Guide

(4)  This is a stretch...but if memory serves, the speech synthesizer chip
is the common one that "everybody used" in that timeframe.  (E.g., it's
in the DECtalk module that Stephen Hawking uses for his "voice", in the
TI-99 speech synthesizer module.)  The device sits at a serial port and
you write phoneme characters to it, like it was a terminal or printer,
and out comes speech.  Radio Shack used to have an annual technical catalog
that contained data sheets on all the chips they sold.  Again, reaching
back 20 years of memory, he 1988 catalog had complete data sheets for a
speech synthsizer chip, again I think for this one that "everybody used".
The chip sold for about $40 back then.  I remember reading that catalog
over and over, just because it had all kinds of interesting stuff in it
that I barely understood at the time.  I also remember that the catalog
from the next year had hardly anything of interest in it (RS was starting
to morph from a hobbyist/experimenter parts outlet to "Tandy Consumer
Electronics", where they sit today).  I don't know if I still have that
RS catalog, but if I find it, I will certainly keep it.

(5)  If someone has an Eve unit, and could look inside the box at the
chips, I am sure that the data sheets for the speech chip are online
*SOMEWHERE*.  Given that Eve had the first serial boards and Orphanware
copied the design, I would bet that the UART is a Signetics 2651 sitting
at one of the "common" base I/O ports (68, 76, 84, or 92 decimal), and
serial I/O driver code is readily available in commented form (e.g., in
the SB1.x source).  So then all you need is the table of phoneme characters
to write to the device to get desired speech.

(6)  Any software that is known to talk to the Eve unit could be
disassembled.  I like that kind of challenge :-)  ISTR that GoDOS with
GoBASIC claimed the ability talk to it through a high-level interface.  I
did find my GoDOS floppy already in my cleaning, but I cannot remember if
it was password-protected by Sol Swift or not, or if the "freebie boot"
counter had expired and the software self-modified to be unrunnable.
Herman and George gave it to me for research purposes.  I do remember
running it a few times.  I made a disk dump of it once, preparatory to an
ADAMcon lecture I gave on comparison of different versions of BASIC for
ADAMs, it was either at ADAMcon 4 or 5.  That file would most likely still
be living on the hard drive of my Tandy 2800HD 286 laptop, whose transplant
to an external case was the subject of an early "This Week With My Coleco
ADAM" article over 10 years ago.  That machine is in the storage locker of
my apartment (just looked in there last night as it turns out).  The GoDOS
image could be disassembled in search of the speech synthesizer driver code.

(7)  ADAMlink of Utah (Alan Neely's newsletter) might have some articles
about it.  Alan sent me some of his newsletters that had the results of
his researches into programming the ADAMlink modem.  He certainly had the
reverse-engineering skill to produce similar technical articles about the
Eve speech synthesizer, but I have no direct knowledge if he ever did so
for publication.

(8)  Brute-force search through Richard Clee's newsletter collection.
Without looking, I could not list the titles he has.  I imagine he had
subscriptions to everything he could find.  It is in many heavy boxes.

     So, all is not totally lost!

     *Dr. D.*

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