SAM

View all posts by: Vectronic | View all posts in category: Apple II Software

Before Steve Jobs introduced the talking Macintosh in 1984, there was Software Automated Mouth and the Apple II computer. This program allows you to give speech to text on an Apple IIe computer. I am not sure of the program's creator, but it can probably be found by analyzing the program's REM statements. I came by the program from a university FTP server. It is available for download at the bottom of the page. The program was stored in disk image format, which I converted into a real 5.25" floppy. If you are interested in playing this program in a real Apple IIe, read the article, "How to get software stored on the Internet to run in a real Apple II," available on this site. The disk image available below is suitable for use in any Apple II emulator. S.A.M. is a simple, straightforward program that uses the Machine Language Speaker subroutine from BASIC.

The program accesses the Machine Language Speaker subroutine at memory locations 864-891. Sound generation will not work in any other location. These memory locations will be vacant unless you are using them for shape tables or another machine language subroutine. The simplest way to put the subroutine in memory is to POKE 864-891. With the subroutine installed in memory, a BASIC program can generate tones of different pitches and frequencies by using POKE statements to put tone lengths (1 to 255) in memory locations between 864 to 891 and CALL statements to call the subroutine at different locations between 864 to 891.

The speaker subroutine hardly makes an Apple II a sophisticated musical instrument, but it can play 43 notes on the Western chromatic scale, and it can play them as eight notes, quarter notes, half notes, or whole notes. This is enough to do a credible job with simple melodies. I have a program to play Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is does a pretty good job with it. If you are musically inclined, and I am not, you could transcribe pitch and length numbers on the chromatic scale to make an Apple II play music. Perhaps, you could write a BASIC program to transcribe these numbers for the user so he or she can concentrate on writing music. Guess what, there are many programs that do just that. I am impressed by the life-changing capabilities the Apple II brought to people in the late 70's throughout the 80's, and even today.

S.A.M. has figured out a clever way to transcribe these pitch and length numbers to speak written text. I am not sure exactly how it does it but the effect is very interesting. The program even lets you tweak these values to make the voice deeper, higher, slower, or faster. It takes a little work to get it to sound somewhat human.

This program is quite old, so as you would expect, DOS 3.x must be installed in RAM to get it to run. Boot a DOS 3.x Master Disk and then load the "Hello" program by typing 'LOAD HELLO, D2'. I have two drives so I put 'D2' to tell it to load "Hello" from drive two. If you don't have two drives, you will need to omit 'D2' from the command and swap out the Master Disk with the S.A.M disk before you press RETURN. Once the "Hello" program is loaded, type 'RUN' and press RETURN.

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DOS 3.3 Master Disk loaded in Drive 1 and S.A.M loaded in Drive 2


Once the target disk loads via the "Hello" program, type 'RUN S.A.M.' at the prompt. Once this loads, you will be sitting at the S.A.M. selection menu as shown below.

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S.A.M Menu


There are a few pre-written speeches, already tweaked, that sound pretty good. The files below are AIF files recorded as the S.A.M. introduces himself. They are available in section '2 - SPEECHES' as shown in the above picture.

hello1.aif (160 KB AIF file)

hello2.aif (208 KB AIF file)

You can write your own speeches by selecting '3 - SAYIT'. It is a little hard to get it set just right. Also, my Apple IIe only has 128K of RAM, so the speeches can only be two lines long. You only need to type the line once. After that, every time you press RETURN, it will read the lines as shown in the picture below.

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S.A.M reading the same lines over and over


Here is the line:
"I AM AN APPLE TWO E. I LOVE VECTRONICS APPLE WORLD. IT IS SO COOL."

Here is the AIF file:
iam.aif (128 KB AIF file)

Here is another line:
"I WISH I WERE A MAC, BUT I AM GLAD I AM NOT A PC"

Here is the AIF file:
wish.aif (88 KB AIF file)


Great programs like this demonstrate why the Apple IIe was so popular for so long. Woz never intended for it to do things like this. His design was so ingenious that over time the Apple II's were adapted for a wide variety of creative things.




(Click) Additional S.A.M. Images:










DOWNLOAD:

sam.dsk.sit

Note:
S.A.M. is compressed with Stuffit Expander and is a .sit file. Use Stuffit Expander or a compatible decompression utility to expand it. You will end up with a file named 'sam.dsk'. This is a disk image file.