Guide to the Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project
NMAH.AC.0417

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0417
Creators:
Maxey, H. David
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.
Dates:
1939-1999
Languages:
English
Some materials are in French and Japanese.
Physical Description:
8 cubic feet
Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project, conducted by H. David Maxey from 1986 through 2002, created a collection of archival materials documenting the history and development of speech synthesis technology. Maxey collaborated with Dr. Bernard Finn, Elliot Sivowitch and Harold Wallace of the National Museum of American History's Division of Information, Technology, and Society.

Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project Original Website
Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project Original Website
This website was created by Dave Maxey in 2002 to document the history of the project and to provide extensive information about the collection materials.

Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The collection documents a project done by H. David Maxey in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution. The collection consists of administrative files containing correspondence, project reports, and other infomation about the Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project. The project files, arranged geographically and alphabetically contains information about specific speech synthesis projects and inventions. The reprints series consists of reprints of articles which Maxey collected and organized separately. This series is organized both numerically and alphabetically. The audiovisual materials contain the recordings of talks, meetings, and samples of speech synthesis described in the projects outlined in the project files.

Arrangement note
Arrangement note
The original SSSHP numbers assigned by Dave Maxey are included in portions of the Container List. They are the basis for the organization of Maxey's original index to and description of the collection. Maxey assigned the numbers sequentially in the order he received each numbered item.
The collection is arranged into four series.
Series 1, Administrative Files,1986-2002
Series 2, Project Files, 1939-1999
Series 3, Reprints, 1939-1999
Series 4: Audiovisual Materials,1939-1999
Subseries 1, ¼" Open Reel Audiotape
Subseries 2, Audiocassettes
Subseries 3, Miscellaneous
Subseries 4, Reference and Protection Audiotapes and CDs

Biographical/Historical note
Biographical/Historical note
The Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project, conducted by H. David Maxey from 1986 through 2002, created a collection of archival materials including sound recordings documenting the history and development of speech synthesis technology. Maxey collaborated with Dr. Bernard Finn of the National Museum of American History's Division of Information, Technology, and Society. Elliot Sivowitch and Harold Wallace of the same division served as Smithsonian liaisons with the project.
"Speech synthesis technology" refers to the results of a long, evolutionary process in which researchers learned to create artificial sounds that people would interpret as speech. As early as the eighteenth century scientists were inventing mechanical machines to create sounds similar to human speech. Later electronics led to additional developments, The Voder was one of the earliest examples which was demonstrated to wide acclaim at the 1939 New York World's Fair. However, it was the widespread use of computers that led to the greatest progress in the field of speech synthesis.
Speech synthesis is the process by which a computer speaks. By contrast, speech recognition is when a computer can interpret spoken language. The application of both of these capabilities has been important for creating assistive computer technology for the visually impaired (speech recognition) and for individuals unable to speak (speech synthesis).
Among the leading researchers and organizations involved with the development of speech synthesis technologies are the Anerican Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), Bell Telephone Laboratories, International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dennis H. Klatt, and Ray Kurzweil.
Today speech synthesis is a common feature of daily life from the cultured voice on the GPS saying exactly which road to take to making a train reservation on the telephone. However, many speech synthesis developers continue to explore and design methods to make the speech sound less mechanical, with the ultimate challenge being natural sounding speech that shows emotion.
Dave Maxey's dedication to the project, with support from members of the staff of the National Museum of American History, has ensured the preservation of materials documenting the early history of electronic and computer engineered synthetic speech.

Administration
Processing Information note
Processed by Wendy Shay, audiovisual archivist, July, 2007.
Author
Finding aid prepared by Wendy Shay
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The collection was created for the Smithsonian Institution from 1986-2002 by Dave Maxey in collaboration with Dr. Bernard Finn of the National Museum of American History's Division of Information, Technology, and Society, assisted by Elliot Sivowitch and Harold Wallace of the same division.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Collection is open for research. Only reference copies of audiovisual materials may be used.
Conditions Governing Use note
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Preferred Citation note
Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Archival Materials note
Artifacts related to this collection are in the Division of Work & Industry, Electricity Collections.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bell Telephone Laboratories. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
International Business Machines Corporation. Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Klatt, Dennis Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kurzweil, Ray Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Assistive computer technology Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Computer sound processing Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Computers Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Dictograph Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diskettes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Speech Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Speech synthesis Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Voder Subject Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C., 20013-7012
Phone: 202-633-3270
archivescenter@si.edu