The VIC-20 Talk-Back was a speech synthesis electronics kit sold by Maplin way back in 1983. The board was designed by Mark Brighton.  This was a home build kit that you could build to make your VIC-20 talk. The speech system had a GI SP0256-AL speech chip at its core. This chip provided some of the following features :

  • A programmable digital filter which simulates the human voice tract.
  • A 16K ROM which contains the data for the 64 allophones.
  • A micro controller which controls the flow of speech data to the filter and the linking of allophones to produce words. A pulse width modulator.

There was no ROM on the PCB. You made it talk by POKEing it. So, this device did not take up any RAM – so you still have your 3k or more RAM! 🙂

Maplin GB17T Talk-Back circuit diagram
Maplin GB17T Talk-Back board layout

There was a small demo piece of code that you tested the speech synthesizer with. Here is a copy of the code from the manual.

Maplin GB17T Speech Synthesizer – Demo Program

To save you some time, I have typed in the program into my VIC-20, tested it and saved it as a .PRG file. I have also put the file into a D64 disk image. There are several ways you can copy these files to a real VIC-20. A SD2IEC is a great device – and there are many more such systems out there.

Maplin GB17T Speech Synthesizer (Talk-Back) demo PRG

You can also download the complete article from the March 1983 edition of the Maplin Magazine. The magazine includes all information you need to make the Talk-Back say anything you want. If you write any applications using the VIC-20 Talk-Back, be sure to let me know and I will put a copy of your code on this site.

Maplin Magazine – March 1983 – VIC-20 Talkback PDF

https://i0.wp.com/www.retrocomputers.online/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Screen-shot-2011-06-13-at-20.22.44.png?fit=793%2C468https://i0.wp.com/www.retrocomputers.online/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Screen-shot-2011-06-13-at-20.22.44.png?resize=150%2C150AndyAndys Retro ComputersCommodoreCommodore,GB17T,LK00A,Maplin,mark brighton,Retro,SP0256-AL2,speech,speech synthesis,synthesizer,Talk-Back,vic-20,vintageThe VIC-20 Talk-Back was a speech synthesis electronics kit sold by Maplin way back in 1983. The board was designed by Mark Brighton.  This was a home build kit that you could build to make your VIC-20 talk. The speech system had a GI SP0256-AL speech chip at its...Retro & Vintage Computers, old consoles and classic gaming.