I still have my Chatty Cathy doll, clothes and all. Never will I forget the excitement of waking up one Christmas morning to this delightful new "best" friend. This pull-string "talking" doll manufactured by the Mattel toy company was all the rage during my youth. With a quick Google Search, I learned that she was only in production from 1959 to 1965 and I'm guessing I was five at the time. Let's not go there with the math...
Chatty Cathy was cutting edge back then and I find it not unreasonable to compare the soon to be released AI friend that Mattel is calling Aristotle to the 1960's toy sensation. This new "toy" can interact and even hold conversations with a kid via AI technology. But it is not delightful to the eye compared to the beloved Chatty Cathy, would you agree?
Mattel plans on debuting Aristotle in June, this device will use natural language processing and the Internet of Things technology to interact with children, the voice is said to sound like a 25-year-old female teacher. It has been touted as a friend, caretaker and even a teacher, and comes in at a cost of $299. The original 1959 Chatty Cathy cost less than $20 and came with a storybook, shoe horn, warranty and certificate of authenticity
As for what this talking friend was saying back in the day, I remember some queries like, Will you play with me? Or suggestions such as, Let's have a party! And the personal favorite, Tell me a story. According to Mattel, the new Aristotle will need to be programmed to understand kid speak by having the child recite a brief paragraph of information to personalize the voice recognition. Mattel also says that Aristotle has the ability to grow with a child, adjusting its engagement levels as a child grows. [Update: Since publishing this story, Mattel has canceled Alexa integration for Aristotle and opted to pursue another, unannounced partnership instead, read more about it here.]