The IBM Shoebox was a 1961 IBM computer that was able to perform mathematical functions and perform speech recognition. It recognized 16 spoken words, including the digits 0 through 9. It was developed by William C. Dersch in the Advanced Systems Development Division Laboratory at IBM[1]


It was displayed at the IBM Pavilion during the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.[1]

It was approximately the size and shape of a standard American shoebox. It had a display of ten small lamp lights labeled with the digits 0 through 9 and an attached microphone. Speaking the name of the digit into the microphone would cause the appropriate digit lamp to light.[1]

Inside the box were a power supply, three analog audio filters and some (presumably) Diode-Resistor-Logic circuitry. The design allowed for the recognition of each digit name “Zero”, “One”, Two” … “Nine” and its front, middle, and ending sound. (Sometimes no middle). And that each sound was high pitched, middle pitched or low pitched. Example: “Five” is High-Middle-High. “Zero” is High-Middle-Low. The microphone was connected to the three audio filters for high, middle, and low pass. The filters latched the logic based decoder and switched one of the ten lamps.[citation needed]

Early development in Natural Language Processing, like the IBM Shoebox, has influenced development in fields such as speech recognition, including things like "voice dialing", "call routing", and "automated appliance control".[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "IBM Shoebox". IBM.
  2. ^ Rost, Michael (December 3, 2015). Teaching and Researching Listening: Third Edition (Applied Linguistics in Action). Routledge. p. 92. ISBN 1138840386.

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