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May 26, 2024

The First Computer to Sing

Wrote Sue Schoenfeld:

I began working for Wisconsin Telephone Co. in 1970.

One of my first managers had worked on the computerized voice synthesis program at Bell Labs in the 1960s.

I was studying to be a speech therapist at the time so he figured I'd be interested: He told me that one of his projects was to figure out what place in the United States had the "least accent" (more correctly, "least dialect").

He conferred with experts and determined that Kansas was the place.

He hired a female speech therapist in Kansas to record the phonetic sounds of the English language.

These recordings were then fed into the program on the IBM computer and became the famous "Daisy" song.

He said that one of the most difficult parts of the project was to deal with the fact that the computer lisped.

The "s" sound was the most difficult to program.

He gave me a recording of one of the earlier versions of the song as a souvenir, and sure enough, it was "Daithy, Daithy...."

May 26, 2024 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


Well, we've nearly completed the circle.
Pop music these days relies heavily on Autotune, with that same grating, mechanical sound.
At least this is 3/4 time, not the endless disco-pop two-beat that has pervaded commercial music ever since disco.

Posted by: Luke | May 27, 2024 9:57:37 AM

As a native Kansan, this confirms what I already expected about our accent

Posted by: Chris | May 26, 2024 3:24:51 PM

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