IBM 704 – Speech Synthesis & Daisy Bell on IBM 7094

ibm 704

The IBM 704, the first mass-produced computer with floating point arithmetic hardware, was introduced by IBM in 1954.

The IBM 704 Manual of operation states:

The type 704 Electronic Data-Processing Machine is a large-scale, high-speed electronic calculator controlled by an internally stored program of the single address type.

from Wikipedia.


The first computer-based speech synthesis systems were created in the late 1950s, and the first complete text-to-speech system was completed in 1968. In 1961, physicist John Larry Kelly, Jr and colleague Louis Gerstman used an IBM 704 computer to synthesize speech, an event among the most prominent in the history of Bell Labs. Kelly’s voice recorder synthesizer (vocoder) recreated the song “Daisy Bell”, with musical accompaniment from Max Mathews. Coincidentally, Arthur C. Clarke was visiting his friend and colleague John Pierce at the Bell Labs Murray Hill facility. Clarke was so impressed by the demonstration that he used it in the climactic scene of his screenplay for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, where the HAL 9000 computer sings the same song as it is being put to sleep by astronaut Dave Bowman. Despite the success of purely electronic speech synthesis, research is still being conducted into mechanical speech synthesizers.


“Daisy Bell” was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892. In 1961, the IBM 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews. This performance was the inspiration for a similar scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
L’IBM 7090 era un computer di seconda generazione, la versione a transistor del precedente IBM 709 a valvole, progettato dall’IBM per “applicazioni scientifiche e tecnologiche su larga scala”, messo in vendita a partire dal novembre 1959. Il 7090 usava parole di 36 bit e aveva uno spazio indirizzabile di 32K (32.768) parole di memoria.

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