Smithsonian Speech Synthesis History Project

Researchers for over a century sought ways to synthesize human speech using mechanical, analog and digital electronic techniques until achieving the success we experience today. The Smithsonian Speech Synthesis Project operated between 1986 and 2002 to document the history of that research. Researcher H. David Maxey, working with museum specialist Elliot N. Sivowitch, conducted interviews, and collected archival material and objects for preservation. 

Maxey built a website in the late 1990s to document and provide access to the project’s materials. The site was a research tool, a guide to the collection rather than an online exhibition. The archival materials are housed in the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History (NMAH) and may be examined by making an appointment with the Archives Center staff. Objects are housed in the NMAH Electricity Collections and may be accessed by appointment with curatorial staff.

The original website has been retired and may now be viewed via an archived site snapshot.


Screenshot of the Speech Synthesis website
This screenshot captures the home page of the former Smithsonian Speech Synthesis website.