In the midst of a global chip shortage, even vintage chips like the General Instrument SP0256 are becoming scarce. This 1980s-era speech synthesizer chip, known for its use in computers and games of that era, is now a valuable commodity. Andrew Menadue relies on this chip for his project involving Psion Organisers, an 80s pocket computer. To address the chip’s scarcity, he built an emulator using an RP2040, which faithfully reproduces the SP0256’s speech capabilities. This solution involves translating WAV files of allophones into byte sequences, allowing the RP2040 to generate accurate speech.
This endeavor illustrates the resourcefulness of hackers in overcoming chip shortages, as even vintage components become elusive. The SP0256, with its ability to synthesize speech, played a significant role in the 80s computer and gaming landscape, making it a sought-after item. By creating an emulator with modern hardware, Andrew demonstrates the adaptability and creativity required to keep retro projects alive in today’s challenging chip market.
As we slowly get through the shortage we will be releasing as much stock as we can get our hands on starting off with this: