Pete Wyckoff, Signal Processing Consultant & IEEE Member
In 1982, E.T. was stranded on Earth and his fate depended upon phoning home using a Texas Instruments Speak & Spell – a child’s toy – precariously wired to a Columbian coffee can and a dingy turntable record player, which appeared to be playing a circular saw rather than an actual record. The Speak & Spell was a contemporary marvel built upon years of engineering research into speech synthesis. Computers could talk to us in 1982; nonetheless phoning a distant galaxy with such a makeshift contraption presented a few obstacles. Although challenges prevail – for good reasons – signal processing and systems engineering help to overcome many of the barriers.