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Talking Viewmasters

By Patrick Mondout

If you enjoy listening to records that have been used as Frisbees or if you enjoy listening to AM radio stations that are greater than 2000 miles away, you'll love the Talking View-Master from GAF! The sound was terrible (for a sample, see the purple box below), but the fact that it could play sound at all blew us all away.

  Huh? What did he say?  

Just how bad was the audio? Click below to hear what one sounded like!
Click here if you have a RealMedia Player Real
  Click here if you have Windows Media Player!   Windows



Behind the Technology

So, how did GAF modify the venerable View-Master to play sound? A clear-plastic, free-spinning disc was mounted to the back of a reel which was then played by a mini record player inside the viewer (two C batteries were required: batteries not included of course). The disc had to be transparent or it would have blocked the light from illuminating the pictures you were presumably looking at. As you looked at the 3D image, you would press a button on the back of the viewer for as long as it took to play the sound for that picture.

With old View-Masters, it never mattered which picture you started from even though the pictures had been numbered since the late 40s. But your audio disc would be out of sync with your pictures if you started anywhere but with frame one here. You could always resync with the first picture without removing and reinserting the reel by pressing a special release button on the back.



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about ? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I got one for Christmas in the mid-Super70s. I had a bunch of reels, although the one that comes to mind had views of Switzerland. The viewmaster talked like a robot, which was fine with me because I was a huge Jetson's fan! I was just a little kid, but I thought the talking view-master was at the height of advanced technology. That makes me giggle now!"


"I didn't own a talking view master. However that didn't stop me dreaming of owning one. My view master came to Scotland from Detroit via my Gran who had been on holiday. Whenever I bought new reels, there was included, a very large sheet of paper listing volumes of reels. They always had adverts for the talking view master priced in dollars. To me they were only available on the other side of the Atlantic, so never had the pleasure of owning one. [Editor's note: It's never too late! Check out the eBay listings on the bottom of the page.]"


"I have the Green and White Talking View-Master Projector, I received it as a Christmas gift around 1974 or so. I also have several disk for the projector, subjects like The Waltons, The Peanuts and a few others. I'm now saving it for my children to enjoy or laugh at it's primative technology."


"When I was little the talking view was my most favorite toy. I had all but forgotten it until I had kids of my own, I was almost shocked to descover that they had not come out with a modern one for our kids today. I have bought one on-line but am having trouble finding reels, Winnie the pooh was my favorite I can still here it now! Mabey with all the retro toys coming out again they will bring this one back too?"


"Ahh, yes, the talking View-Master! It was 1974 growing up as a li'l boy in the Philippines, all I wanted was a regular View-Master, so I wrote my Aunt in New York and asked if she can send me one. I must have been a good boy that year because what I received in the mail was the most-technologically advanced toy I have ever seen! Spock and the rest of the Star trek cast were talking! But it sure drained those C-batteries quick! The voices sounded like "D' Chipmunks" when the batteries were new and when they're weak, it was like Schleprock from the Flintstones! Come to think of it, I didn't know anybody else in the Philippines who had a talking View-Master back then!"


"We had one back in 1972-73. I remember I had a reel of nursery rhymes ("Jack Sprat could eat no fat..his wife could eat no lean...") I still can see very clearly in my mind the images and hear the "voice" of the "narrator". I thought it was a cool toy and still do."


"Back when I was a small child in the Super70s, my sister and I shopped at thrift stores with our mother. One day I found a Talking Viewmaster with a canister full of reels. I can't even begin to describe the joy I felt - especially that night when I got it home. Using a flashlight, I continued to play with my new toy far beyong my bedtime. The beautiful and wonderous 3D photography of these toys has never been surpassed though in these days of $50 Xbox and PS2 games, I doubt too many of today's kids will ever get to appreciate such a simple pleasure of the technological marvel that was the Talking Viewmaster."




Produced from 1970-1981. A completely new model based on better technology was introduced in 1984.

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