Replicating the sound of human voices with any sort of control goes back to Vox Humana, one of the oldest organ stops, dating back at least as far as the late 1500's. Then there's a dip into the uncanny valley with Joseph Faber's Euphonia, before we got to Perfect Paul and beyond, to building custom voices. BBC's Radio 4 had a half-hour special on this topic, titled Klatt's Last Tapes - History of Speech Synthesis, and you can read more, plus a transcript, here. [more inside]
In 1974, artificial intelligence researchers at Michigan State University made a giant leap forward in computer-aided communication for the handicapped: they used an early text-to-speech system to order a pizza. Spoiler: Domino's hung up on them. [more inside]
One hundred years ago, a network of Marconi wireless operators documented history's most famous shipwreck. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the RMS Titanic's radio officers, were usually tasked with sending personal communications for first-class passengers. But on April 14, 1912, they turned their tapping fingers to the CQD distress signal (and, later in the evening, the relatively new SOS call), using the distinctive slang of their fellow operators to report the wreck, call for help, and indulge in a bit of gallows humor. [more inside]
xkcd had an idea to counter YouTube comment stupidity, and apparently someone at YouTube was paying attention. Not everyone is convinced however. (And there's always Comment Snob).
A brief history of speech synthesis : an interesting read, with photos and sound samples!