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1979: IBM shows off talking computer

Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 05:00:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Voice-based technology is everywhere. Virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, are all vying to make our lives just a little bit easier.

Forty years ago this month, RTV6 got its first look at new technology from IBM.

The IBM 5110 was a portable computer and the successor to the IBM 5100.

It weighed a not-so-portable 50 lbs and could do bookkeeping, inventory, and plotting.

With additional equipment, it was even capable of talking.

Phil Smith, of IBM’s creative marketing division, told former RTV6 reporter Linda Lupear that the technology would make it possible for a blind person to use a computer for the first time.

Smith also said the technology helped teach young children.

“They love it. With a voice, it’s just an entirely different kind of machine. It’s really a very interactive thing, and it’s much more attractive to them.”

Lupear originally filed this story on November 20, 1979.