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Dead medium: The Talking View-Master
From: roommate@teleport.com (Dan Howland)
Source(s): personal observation; thrifted one this past weekend. TALKING VIEW-MASTER. Manufactured by GAF (General Aniline & Film). Circa 197?. Two-tone beige plastic. 125mm X 125mm X 200 mm. Power supply: two C batteries.

While the View-Master is not a dead medium, this 1970s variation certainly is. The Talking View-Master uses a special disc set consisting of a standard View-Master disc (fourteen 10mm X 12mm [16mm film?] slides making up seven stereoscopic views, sandwiched between two 9cm cardboard discs) and a smaller, free-spinning phonorecord behind it.

The two discs are inserted into the viewer/player, the first scene is located by pressing and releasing a lever, and a red reset button is pushed. Then a Sound Bar on the front of the machine is pushed, which activates the "turntable" motor and presses the stylus into the first track. Thereafter, the stylus will advance to each subsequent track with every press of the Scene Change Lever.

On this model, only the motor which spins the phonorecord is electrical; the sound is transmitted mechanically from the stylus to a speaker cone. In order to allow enough light to reach the slides through the translucent record, there is a single sheet of clear plastic (65mm X 100mm) molded into two fresnel lenses on the side facing the light source. This is not an entirely successful solution; with common household light sources like lamps, it is difficult to get an equal amount of light to each eye.

Source(s): http://redwood.northcoast.com/~shojo/View/Vwr/vwr.html

GAF Talking Viewer

"Talking View-Master Stereo Viewer is sturdy and easy to use. PUT in the reel... CLICK the lever... PRESS the sound bar. SEE in 3-D, and HEAR cartoon favorites, travel thrills, adventures in science. Operates on two 'C' batteries, not included." (((From original ad copy.)))

Another model featured a built-in light, volume adjustment and was two-tone blue. (Not pictured is the 80's talking viewer, completely redesigned and not compatible with the earlier talking reels.)

It is worth noting that while standard, non-talking View-Master reels were first marketed in 1939, they are still compatible with currently available viewers.

A complete list of Talking View-Master reels is available at:

http://ccwf.cc.utexas.edu/~number6/vm/packets-talking.html

Dan

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