Speak & Spell


The popular ’80s toy, the Speak & Spell, was an educational toy designed to teach kids how to spell words. It made its debut into the world in 1978, but peaked among the youth until the early ’90s. It was everything a parent could hope for in a toy: it educated children while they thought they were playing a game!

How does it work though? The Speak & Spell would speak a word and then ask the player to spell that word. You then would proceed to spell out that word using the keyboard, and following your anticipation, the “game” would let you know if you were correct or not.

The toy even had mini-games that came with the console such as “Mystery Word,” which worked like a game of Hangman.

Kids loved the fact that this toy could literally talk back to them, as other similar games invented prior did not have that capability. Commercials began to appear on TV…

One even featured Mr. Bill Cosby!:

Speak & Spell became a necessity for every 80s household, and we started to see it featured in popular movies and songs. For example, the Speak & Spell is what our favorite little alien E.T. used to “phone home!” (Noteworthy: Mary saying “Ouuuuuch”)


He makes a makeshift communicator to talk to his family on his home planet, and here we see the famous Speak & Spell as a key component of it, because, how else would you contact life on another planet?!

Similarly, we see the Speak & Spell makes a (slightly horrifying) appearance in the third installment of the Poltergeist series, Poltergeist III, starring the late Heather O’Rourke in 1988. Before the spirits come out to mess with her, she is playing with her Speak & Spell.
Now, the Speak & Spell is still around for newer generations, with an iPhone/iPad app!
Not quite the same, but still cool.
You’re welcome.