Sharp Talking Time

WHAT IS IT:  First ELSI quartz talking time clock (1979)


When the Sharp CT 660E “Talking Time” was introduced in 1979 it represented a technological breakthrough.  It was based on the first use of LSI (large scale integration) construction as opposed to the usual method at that time of mounting discrete components to a printed circuit board.  That made it an amazingly sophisticated product in the consumer marketplace at that time.  While there had been electro-mechanical “talking” devices previously this was the first talking clock to synthesize an actual human voice.  Talking products had a short-lived popularity in the 1980’s (who can forget your car insisting that “your door is a jar”) and then for the most part faded away.
When it was first introduced the Sharp Talking Time sold for about $100.  I bought one of the first and it has traveled the world with me, and sits on my nightstand to this day, looking as good as new (the photo is of my Talking Time).  In the 24 years I’ve owned it I estimate I have changed the batteries about 4-5 times.

The exterior is a brushed chrome colored plastic material, however there are no signs of any of the coloration wearing off as with so many chromed-plastic products.  The faceplate appears to be glass, as there are absolutely no scratches or signs of discoloration.  The LCD screen is not illuminated.  There is one small yellow button mounted on the top to activate having the clock announce the time.  The only other external control is a thumbwheel volume control.
On the bottom is a snap-open door (that also functions as a stand to hold the clock at an easier to see angle).  Under the door is a 6-position slider switch to set the time/alarm and to set the timer for 1, 5 or 30 minutes (plus a “normal” position).  There are 3 pushbuttons for hour, minutes & set, a slide switch to activate the alarm and another 2-position slider for clock or stopwatch.

By manipulating the buttons and sliders in combination you can set a fairly sophisticated array of timer/stopwatch activities including elapsed time spoken announcements and accumulated lap time announcements.   You can also set it to announce the time at periodic intervals.  When set for time announcement a matter-of-fact male voice announces "It's 1:27 PM".  When the alarm is set,  a few bars of music plays, followed by "Attention please, the time is, 1:27 PM followed by a brief interlude of Boccherini's Minuet.  If the alarm is set and you don’t shut it off immediately it automatically goes into a snooze alarm mode with the next alert stating “The time is …. PLEASE HURRY”
SIMILAR TO:  first of its type. Introduced talking devices of every kind and millions of cheap talking clocks/watches in the decade to follow
DO YOU NEED IT:  I do ... this is the alarm clock I've depended on for most of my life.  They are becoming increasingly rare and if you are a retro gadget collector now would be the time to try to find one in good condition.
HOW IT IMPACTS YOU:  as alluded to, the influence this device had on speech synthesized products is legend.  When you look at it the case (about the size of a pack of king-sized cigarettes, if you can relate to that) seems huge to contain nothing more than a talking clock, but in 1979 every millimeter of internal space was packed with technology that previously would have required the dimensions of a shoebox (if you can relate to that).
COMMENTS:  If anyone knows that the little gray plastic cover on the left side is for, we would love to know.  At the time I bought it Sharp's only comments was "future technology".

WEBSITE:  There is no reference to this product at the Sharp website


SEE IT IN MOTION:  there are no relevant videos posted

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  1. I have one myself, although it's currently in the custody of my 1 year old(she gets excited and squeals when it tells her the time) I've been wondering what that little outlet is for as well, for as long as I can remember. Only thing I can think of is that it might have been useful in reprogramming in the future, and they just never got around to it? (I had the thing for more than 20 years before I even put batteries in it earlier today. Love the information you shared by the way, makes it more than just an oddity I ended up with of my blind uncle's, but rather a technological treasure.

  2. I just came across this site. I own two, new, still in the box. batteries in a seperate wrapper but they look like they may have leaked. Strap, & Instruction manuel. If you are interested in them, just let me know.

    1. If you still have a clock, I would be interested. What are you selling them for?

    2. I am really interested in purchasing one or two of the Sharp talking time I clocks from you. If you would be interested in selling one or both of them, please contact me by email at These clocks were incredibly popular in the blind community.

      Thank you so much,

    3. Contact me- I will buy both. Info@rockinghamllc.coml

    4. I will buy both. Please contact me

  3. I noticed that you have two that are in the box. I was wondering if you might be willing to sell me one or both. I would give you a very fair price. Please write to me at because I cannot use this website without sighted assistance. My friend is helping me write this. Thank you so much and I want to thank Adam for having such an interesting site.

  4. Some of the comments above were "stuck" in the inbox. Sorry about that, they have been posted now. Good luck with buying/selling/trading your items. [Editor]