Jewish Currents | Kurzweil Reading Machine for the blind — 35 year anniversary

January 13, 2011

Jewish Currents — January 12, 2011 | Lawrence Bush

This is a summary. Read original article in full here.

The first reading machine capable of translating printed material into spoken words was unveiled on this date in 1976 by inventor Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation of the Blind.

Ray Kurzweil, a pioneering scientist in artificial intelligence, appeared on Steve Allen’s I’ve Got a Secret television show as a high school student back in 1965, when he had already invented a computer capable of composing music.

Stevie Wonder purchased the first unit of the Kurzweil Reading Machine; their subsequent friendship helped to inspire many of Kurzweil’s innovations in computer-generated music technology. Kurzweil’s books include The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. Among his numerous awards are seventeen honorary doctorates.


“35 years ago today, Walter Cronkite used the Kurzweil Reading Machine to read his signature sign off: And that’s the way it was, January 13, 1976.” — Ray Kurzweil

“Biological evolution is too slow for the human species. Over the next few decades, it’s going to be left in the dust.”
Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil with Kenneth Jernigan (President of the National Federation of the Blind) and the Kurzweil Reading Machine for the blind, in the late 1970s.