Thursday, June 13, 2013

Satan Lives in the Electrontrics

Today's Throwback Thursday is dedicated to two very different 1980s electronic devices.  First up, the Speak & Spell:
The Speak & Spell debuted in 1978 from Texas Instruments, they of the calculator fame.  We had the 1986 model featured here.  The Speak & Spell had a variety of spelling-type games, the original being "Say It," where the child would have to type the word after hearing it "spoken" by the machine. 

Here's the thing about the Speak & Spell:  if the disembodied computer-generated, inflection-less voice wasn't bad enough, when the batteries started to die, the whole thing sound like Satan was living in your spelling machine.

But that was only when the batteries were running out.  Other than that, it was a perfectly friendly, untraumatic children's toy.

Nope, still creepy.  Plus, they used it in E.T.!  That movie freaked me out as a kid.  Speaking of things that freaked us out as children,...

Meet Satan, err, Teddy Ruxpin.  He debuted in September of 1985 to the horror delight of children everywhere.  You inserted a tape (yes, a cassette tape) into his back, and he would "read" the story (about himself, the narcissistic bastard) and talk to you.  His mouth would move; his eyes would blink; his head would rotate 360°.

My older brother and sister and I have one rich relative, a great-aunt in LaJolla, California.  She usually sent us for Christmas the popular, expensive, "must have" toy that year.  So in 1985, Teddy Ruxpin arrived...

...and freaked our shit out.  The mechanical parts that caused him to move his eyes and mouth, etc. made almost as much noise as Teddy's speaking "voice," so it was hard to hear.  More than that, he was just weird.  His eyes are slightly crossed and always focused on something just beyond you, like he's having a seance whilst speaking, channeling other Satanic electronics.

Oh sure, the stories were about friendship and love, and he even had a cartoon for a while.  But then there's this:

 Teddy Ruxpin:  the stuff of which nightmares are made.

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