Monologue For Windows 3.+
What We Know, Where To Go, And How To Get It !
Long, long ago, but not so far away, In the 1980s there was a small software/hardware company called Covox.
In its' day Covox marketed several products with unique features, ahead of its' time, including:
Dos Text -To- Speech, Sound Player Utility, with LPT 1, DAC parallel port connection to small free-standing external amplified speaker.
PC 286 - 386 SX required.
Some Speechthing drivers function independent of the full Speechthing software program.
These drivers allow the Speechthing [text -to- speech] to operate with TinyTalk [speech control] on 8086 PCs [512 kb] with Himim and [64 kb] dedicated Ramdrive set to temp.
Dos - Windows 3.+ Sound Card - Emulator
PC 386 SX required, 386 DX [4mb] recommended.
Dos - Windows 3.+ Speech/Sound, Recording, Embedding, Command Recognition
PC 386 SX required, 386 DX [4mb] recommended.
The Speechthing's text -to- speech synthesizer program was totally software based.
Requiring no sound card or utility board.
The Dos software text -to- speech synthesizer known as, "SmoothTalker" was made by First Byte, and marketed under a variety of brand names.
The initial vocabulary was limited, but the dictionary was both expandable and phonetically trainable.
The voice was monotone and mechanical, but very understandable.
A wide variety of speech and sound drivers for versatile functions and applications.
Sound reproduction in a variety of formats was very good.
The Speechthing came with:
The SmoothTalker software program:
A DAC - dongle-type - LPT 1 parallel port connection - with an external line to a male, mono-headphone connection.
This DAC 2-way dongle connection allowed printer connection and pass-through from the same parallel port.
The male headphone jack plugged into a single [9 volt] monoral amplified speaker with volume control, secondary speaker connection, and 110 volt converter.
The Covox Speechthing was versatile, compact, portable, and initially priced between $ 55.00 and under $ 100.00.
Covox products were compatible with a number of programs and applications.
The SoundMaster card was designed to emulate most major sound cards, including early [8 bit] SoundBlaster, [16 bit] SoundBlaster Pro, AdLib, Rolo, MPU, Lyra, etc.
The Speechthing when combined with the SoundMaster "Utilities", could play almost any sound or speech out-put to LPT 1, the internal PC speaker, the SoundMaster or other sound card port.
Additionally, the Speechthing was compatible as a voice/sound player for a variety of other applications, including:
Monologue For Windows 3.+ [Version 1.+]:
Text -to- speech Windows Clipboard Screen Reader Synthesizer.
Compatible with Speechthing [LPT 1], internal speaker, SoundMaster and SoundBlaster sound cards [220 hex].
PC 386 DX, 4 mb, required [386 SX, 2 mb, was to slow].
TinyTalk - Dos Speech Control.
TinyTalk functions as a speech out-put controller in conjunction with several of Speechthing's speech drivers.
TinyTalk's lowest power application is on a 8086 PC [512 kb], MS Dos 3.2+, with Himim and [64 kb] dedicated Ramdrive set to temp.
Using only Speechthing's Ttalk and StDrive drivers independent of the full Covox program directory.
TinyTalk along with the Speechthing's drivers, load into memory from your hard drive, and can be called by batch file or hot key to read any ASCII text files at any location in your current path and root directory.
Loading from floppy disk is possible, but not recommended.
It was slow but it goes.
In adaptive technology both Speechthing and Monologue For Windows were used as platforms for several user friendly adaptive applications.
The majority of these applications were "hand crafted" to conform to a specific disability. Several have been archived in software - shareware collections.
Others have been set aside and lost to public access.
Perspective In Retrospect
Needless to say by the early 1990s, Covox was gaining attention. Including the attention of Creative Labs the makers of SoundBlaster.
In a series of law suits from Aztech [the manufacturer] in Singapore, to Covox [the marketer] in America, Creative Labs defended its' SoundBlaster Territory and Technology against Aztech and Covox's SoundMaster emulators.
By the mid 1990s all of Covox's products were gone.
Dumped on the market and sold in bankruptcy at a fraction of cost.
Creative Labs wins, SoundBlaster rules. Covox is no more.
Covox is no longer in business. First Byte no longer sells or supports the Speechthing "SmoothTalker" software.
TinyTalk demo software is still full functioned and free in the Internet archives.
First Byte no longer sells or supports the early versions of Monologue For Windows [Version 1.+].
Monologue For Windows was initially bundled with Creative Labs' [SoundBlaster OEM] sound cards.
Creative Labs no longer sells or supports its' SoundBlaster OEM cards or Monologue For Windows [Version1.+].
Aztech no longer manufactures or supports SoundMaster, VoiceBlaster, hardware.
Although still in copyright, Covox hardware and software products are now "orphan".
What You Have - What You Need
What We've Got -And- Where To Get It !
1. If you are looking for speech synthesis.
Get a SoundBlaster card.
2. If you are looking for music synthesis.
Get a music format sound card.
3. If you have a Pentium 200+/64 [or better] with Windows 95+ you can run anything you want that is "new".
Get a new SoundBlaster [32 bit] card.
4. If you have a 486/66/16 [or better] PC running Windows 95+ and are looking for low cost speech synthesis, voice/sound recording, embedding, recognition, command, control, and dictation.
Get a "used" SoundBlaster Pro [16 bit] card.
If possible get a "Non-OEM" SoundBlaster card.
OEM cards can not support Text Assist.
OEM cards were made by Creative Labs to be included in brand name computers.
While the computer manufacturer supported OEM product, Creative Labs has never supported their own OEM cards.
Try to get the original software that came with the card.
OEM cards came with Monologue For Windows.
SoundBlaster Pro [Non-OEM] cards came with Text Assist.
5. If you have a 386/DX4 [or better] with Windows 3.1+, and are looking for low cost, lower powered, Dos - Windows based voice/sound recording, embedding, recognition, command, control, and dictation.
Get a "used" SoundBlaster [16 bit] card. [See: OEM notice above]
Search Dejanews user newsgroups "for sale" notices.
If you are thinking about speech ... do it now, before Dos - Windows 3.+ products are discontinued and disappear.
Be aware, that some major manufacturers, distributors, and dealers offer "reconditioning" [used] re-sales.
This tends to justify, and artificially support, of higher prices for old software applications and hardware still in production.
6. If you have a 386 SX and are looking for low cost, low power, Dos - Windows 3.+ applications.
You can have most text -to- speech, screen magnification, word and spread sheets processing, command control recognition, limited voice dictation, but you can not have them all.
Get a "used" [16 bit] SoundBlaster Pro card. [See: OEM notice above]
Search Dejanews user newsgroups "for sale" notices.
7. If you have an old 8086 or 286 PC and are both adventurous and experienced in early Dos technology.
You can have almost any program, one at a time, only slower and smaller.
Get a "used" [8 bit] SoundBlaster card.
Search Dejanews user newsgroups "for sale" notices.
Be aware, that low powered [8 bit] applications can be disappointing when compared against more current [16 and 32 bit] applications.
Additionally, early Dos archives tend to be collections of bits, pieces and utilities, rather than whole systems or applications.
Documentation can be limited or non-existent.
8. If you have a 8086 or 286 PC and are very adventurous and experienced in early Dos Technology.
You may find the early versions of SoundMaster and VoiceBlaster.
In its' day SoundMaster, VoiceBlaster were top of the line in speech/sound processing from a single application.
The earliest versions of SoundMaster and VoiceBlaster were externally ported utility bars, rather than a totally internal sound card.
Both applications are functional as systems in Dos 3.2+ through Dos 4.0+ when used with a Ramdrive - Smartdrive configuration.
The original [8 bit] software is required to install each unit.
To date, no known source exists for software, manuals or hardware to the earliest versions of SoundMaster and VoiceBlaster.
Without all of these items the hardware is useless.
9. If you have an older 386 DX [4mb] PC, running Windows 3.+ and find a Covox SoundMaster(2) and VoiceBlaster (Key) with card, manuals, headset, and software.
You will still need to be adventurous and experienced with Dos - Windows 3.+.
Don't pay more than for a used SoundBlaster [16 bit] sound card.
Scanned manuals and software are available from user collections.
To date, no known single source exists for the SoundMaster or Voice Blaster sound card hardware.
Those found have been on the work benches of local computer repair technicians and second hand computer stores.
The Speechthing Today
How To Fix It - How To Make It
For low cost conversion of older laptop and desktop PCs to speech without a sound card you can still consider the Speechthing.
Due to its' LPT 1 port connection, and a small portable amplified speaker, the Speechthing is ideal for laptops and desktops where space is limited.
SmoothTalker software and [scanned] manual for the Covox Speechthing's Dos text -to- speech synthesizer is available from off-line user collections.
Contact SuperAdaptoid at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linux Patch software and documentation for Covox Speechthing is still available in the Linux archive.
TinyTalk A Dos speech out-put controller is compatible with Speechthing's Dos speech synthesizer.
The TinyTalk "demo" is still fully functional and available in the internet archives.
Download 2 files: [ttexe167.zip] software and
documentation [ttdoc167.zip] for the complete TinyTalk.
Speechthing Amplified Speaker with LPT 1 DAC Connection.
Replacements, Plans, and Improvements. Options for Do -It- Yourself and Off -The- Shelf.
SoundJr Digital Audio Modules
SiliconeSoft markets a Speechthing - type compatible small portable amplified speaker with volume control and LPT1 DAC connection.
The SoundJr use the standard printer port data pins (#2-9) for digital audio data and the control pins (#1, 14, 16, 17) for volume control.
All these output pins are also used to supply power to directly to the amplifier and volume control circuits.
The output is a standard 1/8" stereo mini-jack with the same signal (mono) on each channel.
No battery or external power converter required.
This is an improvement of the original Speechthing speaker/amplifier hardware.
However this can increase portable laptop battery power useage.
Cost under $50.00, see price information on their web site.
Speechthing software not included [see: above]. http://siliconsoft.com/sndjr1.htm
Speech Dongle. iANSYST Ltd Dyslectech [UK] markets a hardware emulation of the Speechthing with LPT1 DAC connection
The Speech Dongle has a small, mono, single box speaker, with a volume control, [9 Volt] battery and a signal operated power switch so that it only draws power when actually speaking.
This greatly improves battery life.
Estimated cost is $60.00 [USA] plus $ 10.00 postal delivery.
See price information on their web site.
Speechthing software not included [see: above]. http://www.dyslexic.com/hware.htm
Do -It- Yourself Options for LPT1 DAC Connectors, amplified speakers, and analog to digital utilities.
Plans, description, schematics, and drawings.
The Do-It-Yourself Alternative To
Internal PC Sound Out-Put Amplification
Rather than using an LPT1 DAC connection, most applications will allow Speechthing to play to the computer's internal sound device [ie: speakers vs. squeakers].
The problem then becomes how to improve voice/sound quality through amplification and volume control of the internal sound device.
The answer is an external amplified speaker with a connection to the internal sound device.
The following describes the use of a [9volt] amplified -telephone- room "speaker-phone" with the [suction cup] magnetic [induction coil] telephone pick-up.
They are portable [small in size], low priced [under $15.00], readily available [Radio Shack and Archer brands].
When you place the magnetic induction coil [telephone pickup] on to the internal sound device a wireless magnetic connection is made.
The telephone pickup will magnetically pickup the out-put of the internal sound device and carry the magnetic out-put by wire to the outside speaker [phone] amplifier.
This is all done without any direct internal wire connections required.
If you don't have [or can not have] a sound card.
If you are dissatisfied with the quality and volume of sound coming from inside your computer
When you want to make a change!
Then pre-purchase a [9volt] amplified -telephone- room "speaker-phone" with the [suction cup] magnetic [induction coil] telephone pick-up.
Remember both Radio Shack and Archer brands have them for under $15.00.
Also purchase, or have ready, a tube of Household Goop [brand] silicone glue.
[Why Goop? Because it glues anything, and stays flexible anywhere, hot or cold.]
Before starting: be prepared with tools, a clear open work area, and knowledgeable assistance to help use the tools.
Turn the computer off, disconnect the power plug, and [carefully] release and open the computer case.
Every PC Computer has a sound device.
1. There is the internal case mounted "speaker".
Which looks like a small transistor radio speaker, or a metal can-like object [about] 1 inch high, with the diameter of 1.5 inch, attached to the computer case.
Internal case mount speakers usually have sufficient volume/power dawn from the PCs system.
If you can clearly hear it you probably have an internal case mounted speaker.
You may still want to continue to enhance speech/and sound out-put.
2. If the sound is faint or muffled you probably have a "squeaker".
If you can not visually find a case mounted speaker ... you have a squeaker mounted and hard-wired directly on the Motherboard.
A squeaker is a small can-like object [about] the size of a pencil eraser, with a very small whole in its' top.
Internal squeakers are low cost [cheap], primitive [push-pull] sound devices that can not generate sufficient sound without further loss of quality.
3. Visually identify and verify the squeaker or speaker.
4. If you can not identify it visually [carefully] remove the loose metal case from the work area. Then reconnect the [open] computer, and turn it on.
Go to Windows, Main, Control Panned, and test Sounds.
If you have a Dos [only] computer you can get Dos to make a keyboard "lockup" warning tone then several keys are pressed together.
In either case play the sounds and seek the source on the Motherboard.
To find and verify, use a plastic straw to touch and listen to each potential squeaker object.
You will find there may be several "look alike" candidates.
Only one will have a tiny whole in its' top and it is the only one to make sound.
Once identified, [carefully] turn your computer off and un-plug it!
5. Take the suction cup of the [magnetic induction coil] telephone pick-up,
and place a small "glob" of Household Goop [brand] silicone glue into the suction cup.
6. Now place the suction cup on top of the squeaker, or [centered] behind the case mounted speaker.
You may want to tape it down until the glue sets.
7. Once the glue sets, run the magnetic induction coil [telephone pick-up] wire outside of the case.
Use an empty rear slot-port or drill through the case.
8. Carefully re-assemble the case, plug-in the computer, and turn it on.
9. Put a [9volt] battery in the speaker phone amplified speaker, plug in the telephone pick-up, and turn it on.
10. Florescent room lights and computer monitors may generate background noise.
Just position the amplified speaker box to reduce interference.
11. Be sure to turn the amplifier on when you need it. Turn the amplifier off when you are done.
Wanted "patches" or opinions. To update and upgrade the last models of Covox SoundMaster(2), and VoiceBlaster(Key), drivers from Dos - Windows 3.+, to Windows 95.
To improve Covox product performance in either Dos or Windows 3.+ while operating in Windows 95 emulation environment.