NEW, FUTURE or RETRO: Retro
HOW GOOD IS IT: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.
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
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
BUYING OPTIONS: eBay?
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