National Semiconductor Digitalker (DT1050 / MM54104) - alternative ROMs

The Digitalker, which dates back to around 1982, always fascinated me, but it was always too expensive. I have now finally bought one of Ebay for a nice price, and downloaded the datasheet. I always thought that all information was on board this one chip, but it seems several ROMs are needed: MM52164SSR1, MM52164SSR2 and I even read recently about a MM52164SSR5 and MM52164SSR6.

I'd say these are just (EP)ROMs and can be simulated with a microcontroller or by programming a nice 64Kbit EPROM. But then I would need to have the contents (Hexdump) of those ROMs. The chips itself, which would also be fun to have, can't be found at all: Ebay just remains blank. There might be companies like Octopart that are willing to sell 1,000 items for a very "nice" price, but that is not what I'm looking for.

But what exactly are these ROMs? Just a set of parameters that form a prefab vocabulary or are they essential for the working of the Digitalker in general. As far as I know, the Digitalker (DT1050)can be used "stand alone", but the vocabulary is then limited.

Comments

  • 22 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 7,195
    edited June 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    The MM52164 is an 8K x 8 ROM, so based on what you posted ( As far as I know, the Digitalker (DT1050) can be used "stand alone" ) they are most likely a vocabulary extension. If that is the case there are probably several options to substitute other parts for the ROM as long as the original data is available in some form. Having that data is the crux of the matter. Any manual or info available for the DT1050?

    PS - Some info on this chip at https://sites.google.com/site/analogvocoderinfo/ic-speech/ic-advances-in
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Thanks for your info!
    kwinn wrote: »
    The MM52164 is an 8K x 8 ROM, so based on what you posted ( As far as I know, the Digitalker (DT1050) can be used "stand alone" ) they are most likely a vocabulary extension.
    I'm not sure if there is some sort of a basic vocabulary in the main chip, the MM54104, so that some basic words or sounds can be produced without any ROM, I can't really derive that from the datasheet.
    kwinn wrote: »
    If that is the case there are probably several options to substitute other parts for the ROM as long as the original data is available in some form. Having that data is the crux of the matter.
    Indeed. I'd say NS's ROMs could be replaced with an EPROM, but indeed it requires the hexdump. I have not been able to find that. I was actually hoping someone in this forum already played with it in the past.
    kwinn wrote: »
    Any manual or info available for the DT1050?
    The datasheet is wide available, it is a lowres scan, but readable. It's pretty brief for such a complicated IC.
    kwinn wrote: »
    Interesting, I never new that DT1050 was the name of the set (consisting of the MM54104 "engine" and the MM52164SSR1 and 52164SSR2 ROMs).

    Apart from the SSR1 and 2, there seem to have existed a SSR5 and 6 as well. I have no idea why this was sold prefab, if you know how to encode a new word (some sort of formula), you could create your own EPROM with a certain vocabulary.

    Interesting, but it's all dead old and therefore info is hard to find...
  • Boy, are you a glutton for punishment! The ROMS are just canned words, you can do the same with a cheap SPI Flash or even microSD, the Prop, and an RC DAC for speech output. Heck, I could knock something together just by recording words, saving them onto the microSD as separate files, then just playing them back as required.
  • Boy, are you a glutton for punishment! The ROMS are just canned words, you can do the same with a cheap SPI Flash or even microSD, the Prop, and an RC DAC for speech output. Heck, I could knock something together just by recording words, saving them onto the microSD as separate files, then just playing them back as required.
    Ha,ha, that is correct, BUT... The whole fun is to get this dead old MM54104 working ;-) Why? Don't ask ;-)

    The ROMs contain indeed "just" canned words, but some smart algorithm was used and a good starting point would be a dump of those ROMs in order to populate an EPROM. As the ROM chips cannot be found.

  • A good starting is not the dump of the ROMs, it's finding the ROMs on the dump somewhere......however...
    I see W4OLF on an Arduino forum has backed up DIgitalker ROMS, so you might try contacting him for a copy.
  • A good starting is not the dump of the ROMs, it's finding the ROMs on the dump somewhere......however...
    I see W4OLF on an Arduino forum has backed up DIgitalker ROMS, so you might try contacting him for a copy.
    These ROMs are extremely hard to find. I think many people have forgotten about these ROMs, they sell the MM54104, the engine, and once threw away the ROMs because they didn'tknow what it was (my guess). Thanks for the usefull link, it seems this guy has a lot of the info needed and the contents of the ROMs. I PM'ed him, waiting for an answer...

  • Hey! I find I still have the complete set with all 4 ROMs in a little box on a dusty shelf. From Jameco vintage 1991 but the ROMs are dated 1980/81. PM me and we can make a deal either for the hardware or for an image of the ROMs. I'd built up the main 134 word set on a vectorboard with blue wires, but the SSR5 and SSR6 ROMs with the additional 131 words are still in a tube.

  • A nice article showing the complete word set at,

    http://www.classiccmp.org/cini/pdf/re/Build a Speech Synthesizer (1288).pdf
  • Hey! I find I still have the complete set with all 4 ROMs in a little box on a dusty shelf. From Jameco vintage 1991 but the ROMs are dated 1980/81. PM me and we can make a deal either for the hardware or for an image of the ROMs. I'd built up the main 134 word set on a vectorboard with blue wires, but the SSR5 and SSR6 ROMs with the additional 131 words are still in a tube.
    Wow! Just PM'ed you.

  • A nice article showing the complete word set at,

    http://www.classiccmp.org/cini/pdf/re/Build a Speech Synthesizer (1288).pdf
    Yep, interesting link, had seen the article before. ROMs also seem to have been included as a dump in something called MAME. I need to go through it to see what it is, but for now it seems a huge collection of ROM's all concatenated to one sort of config file, that is used in a sort of "engine" software.

  • I have been watching this thread with interest. I have two old EPROM programmers , (parallel port), and I keep two 486 machines just for this purpose. Let me see if the programmers can read a MM52164. I know I have NS Data Book from that time period.

    I have an original Dectalk DTC01. A 68000 and a bunch of ROMS also.
    Infernal Machine
  • Publison wrote: »
    I have been watching this thread with interest. I have two old EPROM programmers , (parallel port), and I keep two 486 machines just for this purpose. Let me see if the programmers can read a MM52164. I know I have NS Data Book from that time period.

    I have an original Dectalk DTC01. A 68000 and a bunch of ROMS also.
    You might want to have a look at the Arduino Forum on the abovementioned link, wiring is different, so be careful that you don't destroy your ROM or reader. I still got an old parallel port Willem Peogrammer, always interesting to keep when you're interested in older stuff and I keep a 486 and an old laptop as well. This programmer can go back to 2716 EPROMs (but not 2708's - which are nice complicated with their 3 voltages + 1 voltage for programming).

  • Tracy AllenTracy Allen Posts: 5,933
    edited June 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    The chips are mark "copyright MOZER". I was curious about that and found that it has an interesting back story. The speech compression algorithm and codec used in the chips was the brainchild of physicist/engineer/inventor/entrepreneur Forest S. Mozer. He came up with and patented the methods back in the mid 1970s, in the days of expensive memory. He licensed the technology to National Semi for the Digitalker and to other companies as well. He capped his career as a physicist here in Berkeley at the Physics Dept. and at the Space Sciences Laboratory, contributing mightily to the measurement of electric fields in plasmas in space (as in the earth's aurora). He and his son founded a Silicon Valley company, sensory, with a patented speech recognition technology..
  • George and I struck a deal to get these chips into his hands in the Netherlands and to help me clean up my shop. Here are photos of the chips. The SSR1 and SSR2 roms are still in the board in zif sockets; the Codec is the big chip; the extra roms SSR5 and SSR6 are still in their tube. Blue wires, oh my, what a headache. Many of them are pulled loose, but no worries, George, I'm sending just the chips and you can make it talk the way you want! I hope you can play it back for us.
    320 x 115 - 15K
    320 x 240 - 46K
    320 x 240 - 64K
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,285
    edited June 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I hope this all comes together. I love when old stuff gets working again to show the youngsters how we did it "back then". :)

    Edit: wonder if the copyright is still in place on the ROMs?
    Infernal Machine
  • PublisonPublison Posts: 9,285
    edited June 2016 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I noticed there are a few of the Codec chips available, although pricey:

    http://www.electronicsurplus.com/national-semiconductor-corp-54104-ic-digitalker-speech-synthesizer

    The SC-01 is 100 dollars cheaper. :)

    http://www.gameroomrepair.com/ICparts/ICparts.htm

    Infernal Machine
  • Really happy with it, can't wait to make it speak ;-)
  • Re: http://www.electronicsurplus.com/national-semiconductor-corp-54104-ic-digitalker-speech-synthesizer
    To pay $169 for the codec alone, you'd have to be pretty much up against a wall to rejuvenate your vintage cash flow widget. The $169 does not include the essential ROMs. Hurry, only 29 in stock!

    I think most individual copyright protection extends through the author's life plus 70 years, unless the author releases it. It is different for works for hire, 95 years after publication.

  • I purchased the chip set in the late 80's, and never did anything with them. I am/was about to finally hook them up, but when I saw what price was being asked for them I may sell them.
  • garyp wrote: »
    I purchased the chip set in the late 80's, and never did anything with them. I am/was about to finally hook them up, but when I saw what price was being asked for them I may sell them.

    Asking Price?



    Infernal Machine
  • garypgaryp Posts: 4
    edited March 5 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I keep going back and forth on whether to build or sell !
  • I think most individual copyright protection extends through the author's life plus 70 years, unless the author releases it. It is different for works for hire, 95 years after publication.
    The DigiTalker chips use Mozer compression, which recognizes, among other things, that the human ear is sensitive to frequency and amplitude, but insensitive to phase. Mr. Mozer, IIRC, was a stickler for protecting his IP and didn't suffer IP "piracy" gladly.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Sign In or Register to comment.