Speak & Spell

Why am I including this Texas Instruments electronic thing from 1978? I wouldn’t call it a toy, as it really was a learning computer—not even rudimentary as it had speech synthesis. At 7 years old, this would be my first computer interaction.

Sure it was fiddly (the buttons didn’t always register a push), but it worked well enough to engage and inspire spelling exercises. (Turns out, I didn’t get much better.)

Wrap all this new fangled tech in bright orange plastic with rounded corners and jaunty type? That warrants a lifetime favorite.

Related: They’ve made a new version at Target with capacitive buttons for $22 bucks.