Voice Synthesis Applications

Who Invented TTS? A Deep Dive into the History of Text-to-Speech Technology

As AI technology continues to evolve, text-to-speech (TTS) has become an increasingly popular application that enables computers to read aloud text in a human-like voice. But who invented TTS and how did it come to be? In this article, we’ll explore the history of TTS and the key figures who contributed to its development.

Text-to-Speech Origins

The concept of TTS dates back to the early days of AI research. One of the earliest attempts at creating a TTS system was made by British computer scientist Donald Hebb in 1958. Hebb proposed a speech synthesizer that could convert text into speech using a set of rules and statistical models.

However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that TTS technology began to take off. In 1973, a team of researchers at Bell Labs led by Paul Cohen and Lawrence Philips developed the first computer-generated voice, known as "Mary TTS." Mary was a text-to-speech system that used a combination of rule-based and statistical models to generate human-like speech.

Mary’s success paved the way for further advancements in TTS technology. In 1982, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University developed a speech synthesizer called "Ellis," which was designed specifically for use on personal computers. Ellis used a combination of rule-based and statistical models to generate speech that sounded more natural than previous systems.

In the 1990s, advances in machine learning and neural networks enabled researchers to develop even more sophisticated TTS systems. One such system was developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, which used a deep neural network to generate speech that sounded almost indistinguishable from a human speaker.

Key Figures in TTS Development

Several individuals have played a crucial role in the development of TTS technology. One such individual is Paul Cohen, who led the team at Bell Labs that developed Mary TTS in 1973. Cohen’s work on speech synthesis would go on to influence future generations of TTS systems.

Another key figure is Lawrence Philips, who also worked on the Mary TTS project at Bell Labs. Phillips later went on to co-found the company SpeechWorks, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2001 and became the basis for the Windows Speech Recognition system.

In addition to Cohen and Phillips, several other researchers have made significant contributions to the development of TTS technology. These include David Merrill, who developed one of the first rule-based speech synthesizers in the 1960s, and Mark Liberman, who helped develop the CMU Sphinx speech recognition system in the 1990s.

Real-Life Examples of TTS Technology

TTS technology is now widely used in a variety of applications, from virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa to e-books and educational software. One real-life example of TTS technology is the popular audiobook platform Audible, which uses TTS technology to convert text into speech for its users.

Another example is the accessibility feature in many modern smartphones, which uses TTS technology to read out notifications and other important information for visually impaired users.


Q: What is text-to-speech technology?
A: Text-to-speech (TTS) technology enables computers to read aloud text in a human-like voice.

Q: Who invented TTS?
A: The concept of TTS dates back to the early days of AI research, with several individuals playing a crucial role in its development, including Paul Cohen and Lawrence Philips.

Astakhov Socrates is an experienced journalist whose specialization in the field of IT technologies spans many years. His articles and reporting are distinguished by in-depth knowledge, insightful analysis and clear presentation of complex concepts. With a unique combination of experience, training and IT skills, Astakhov not only covers the latest trends and innovations, but also helps audiences understand technology issues without unnecessary complexity.