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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/79

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The Marvelous Voice Typewriter

Talk to It and It Writes

��By Lloyd Darling

��CONCEIVE an ordinary machine resemljling the machines in com- mon office use — full of the cus- tomary' cog-wheels and crooked levers and variegated springs. It might be an adding ma- chine so far as one can judge by external appearances or a dictaphone or a new- fangled cash- register.

But

Speak to it!

It becomes alive. It hears you. It vibrates with action. Somewhere inside, type- writer bars go ' 'clickety- click-click." At the top of the machine a sheet of paper unwinds from a roller.

The machine has written down what you have spoken!

If you said "cat" it wrote down "cat". If you said "Dear Sir: Your favor of

recent date received and ," as though

you were starting out an ordinary, time-worn business letter, it wrote that same thing down.

An odd feature about the machine is that it spells words as they sound and not according to some fat dictionary. Indeed it would have to be a phonetic speller. How else could it distinguish "dough" and "tough?" But if you are considerate, and mindful of its feelings enough to spell out words correctly in cases where it might be iikeh' to err,

���the machine will very obediently follow you and make the resultant letter strictly orthodox so far as spelling is con- cerned. It faithfully tries to do its best.

Does the machine think, as well as hear? How else can it perform all these feats if it doesn't reason?

Unfortunate- \y, the machine doesn't think, howe\-er much it may ai)pear to approach that desirable attribute. One reason is that at present the machine is brainless. But, even if it had a brain, that organ would be of no use in controlling parts com- pletely separa- ted. Thus far the imenlor of this contri\-ance, Mr. John B. Flowers of Brooklyn, N.V.,has succeeded only in getting the various parts to operate, alone and by them- selves — in itself no mean achievement. The machine as we ha\'e depicted it is the concejjlion toward which he is working. It opens up a wide vista for the imagination. Think what it means for the office of the future to have an almost human machine at hand to perform the routine drudgery of type- writing and letter-writing!

Unlike most projected in\entions of the kind this machine was not conceived as an idle dream. It is based upon sound technical reasoning and researches as

��The largest camera in the world, used by Mr. Flowers in experiments for record- ing rapid sound vibrations

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