Talking Teacher from Coleco (1986)

Company: Coleco | Release date: 1986 | Ages: 5 to 12 | Where to purchase: eBay

The Talking Teacher electronic learning toy was released in 1986 by Coleco.

Marketed as “an electronic play center, programmed for hours of spelling and math learning fun”, Talking Teacher offered 10 play-and-learn activities, each with 5 skill levels.

The blue plastic housing included an 8-character liquid display screen at the top of the unit, a speaker on the upper right, and a carrying handle on the left. The yellow-and-orange keypad was printed with numbers (0 – 9), letters (A through Z), and mathematical symbols (+, -, x, ÷) that allowed children to communicate their answers. The top row of the keypad was reserved for practical functions, such as turning the toy on and off, switching modes, selecting modules, and other tasks.

The toy chimed “Hello” when it was activated. Children then selected either the math or spelling mode and the activity level they wanted to play. Talking Teacher would use its 165-word vocabulary to instruct users to spell specific words and solve simple math equations. Children keyed in a response, pressed enter, and received confirmation of a correct answer or encouragement to try again.

Coleco released expansion modules, as well, including 4 spelling modules for different age groups, Sentence Superstars, and Vowel Detectives.

The toy was positioned against the original Speak & Spell from Texas Instruments (1978). Talking Teacher built on the Speak & Spell concept by adding math exercises (although Texas Instruments had released a Speak & Math learning toy 6 years before Coleco’s entry), and a digital voice it claimed was clearer than the one developed by Texas Instruments.

The toy promised low power consumption for longer battery life. Four C-cell alkaline batteries or an AC adapter were required to power the toy; neither was included in the package.

Watch a classic commercial for Talking Teacher on the Toy Tales YouTube channel.

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