Retrochallenge 2010
      Winter Warmup
      Mark Wickens
      2-Jan-2010

                                           DECtalk

      Well, I thought a little retro festive ditty was in order, so I quickly penned
      the following variant of 'Let it Snow' and piped it through DECtalk as shown
      below.

             Oh the weather outside is frightful,
             But VAX VMS is so delightful,
             And since we've no P.C. to go,
             Let's Retro! Let's Retro! Let's Retro!

             It doesn't show signs of Scroll locking,
             And I've bought a Commodore 64 for run-stopping,
             The blinkenlights are turned way down low,
             Let's Retro! Let's Retro! Let's Retro!

             When we finally post the blog tonight,
             How I'll hate going back to the norm!
             But if you push hold-screen tight,
             And hug the alphaserver we'll be warm.

             The green screen glow is slowly dying,
             And, my terminal, we're still good-bying,
             But as long as you reboot tomorrow,
             Let's Retro! Let's Retro! Let's Retro!

      You can hear the result here:

      Let it Snow

      DECtalk was originally a hardware product with communication from the host via a
      serial cable. A software-only version was created for the DEC Alpha (presumably
      VAXen didn't have enough grunt) and the WAV file created above was processed on
      a DEC Alpha 3000/600 AXP workstation of 1994 vintage running a similar vintage
      of DIGITAL Unix, Version 3.2. The workstation has a small RJ-type jack which
      allows a headset to be plugged in and provides 'speech-quality' audio. The
      DECtalk output actually sounds more realistic over that kind of quality line
      compared with a high quality speaker.

      It does a pretty good job of converting straight text. You can also embed
      escape sequences to provide specific pronounciations, intonation and all that
      jazz. Check out Dr Iain Murray's - Fun Things with DECtalk web page [1] for what
      is possible.

      
      ENDNOTES

      1. Fun Things with DECtalk