Stephen Hawking’s computer-generated voice is so iconic that it’s trademarked — The filmmakers behind The Theory of Everything had to get Hawking’s personal permission to use the voice in his biopic.
But that voice has an interesting origin story of its own.
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Back in the ’80s, when Hawking was first exploring text-to-speech communication options after he lost the power of speech, a pioneer in computer-generated speech algorithms was working at MIT on that very thing. His name was Dennis Klatt.
As Wired uncovered, Klatt’s work was incorporated into one of the first devices that translated speech into text: the DECtalk. The company that made the speech synthesizer for Hawking’s very first computer used the voice Klatt had recorded for computer synthesis. The voice was called ‘Perfect Paul,’ and it was based on recordings of Klatt himself. Read more…
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