Do You Remember:

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:

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".

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