Speak & Spell
If you had one of these, then you were one step ahead of those of us who suffered the trip to Grandma's with just our Little Professor calculators and Merlin. The Speak and Spell was an educational toy created by Texas Instruments and it first hit shelves in 1978. The unit was sophisticated for its time and became especially popular after having been featured in the 1982 movie E.T. (E.T. used it to phone home). It had a speech synthesizer, a keyboard, a visual display, and would accept little ROM cartridges that expanded its functionality. For example, the “Say It” cartridge required the player to spell words after hearing them spoken, and “Mystery Word” was a hangman game. In 1982, a compact version of the device was created that had no visual display, and by 1989, the Super Speak & Spell was released with an LCD display.