Talking Moose

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The Talking Moose is an animated talking utility for the Apple Macintosh. It was created in 1986 by Canadian programmer Steven Halls. It is the first animated talking agent on a personal computer and featured a moose that would appear at periodic intervals with some joke or witticism. The moose would also comment on system events and user actions and could speak what a user typed using the Moose Proof desk accessory.

The moose was the first facially animated talking agent with lip synchronization and it became the seed idea for future talking agents, such as Clippy the paperclip in Microsoft Windows, and Prody Parrot from Creative Soundblaster.

The Talking Moose used Apple's Macintalk software, the first version of which famously made the original "Never trust a computer you can't lift" speech at the Macintosh launch in 1984. Apple's development of Macintalk had petered out and they granted Halls permission to use, and continue refining, the software for free. Halls did not just improve the fluidity of the speech and the reliability of the interpretation but gave the moose a library of comedic observations and wisecracks which gave it a distinctive character.

The original Moose was distributed with the Bob LeVitus book Stupid Mac Tricks in 1989. Later versions allowed full speech integration for software developers and even a HyperCard plugin.

In the 1990s, development of the program was taken over by Uli Kusterer under the name Uli's Moose - for which he later obtained Steve Halls' blessing. This Moose was included in Bob LeVitus' iMac (and iBook) book "I Didn't Know You Could Do That".

Moose Versions[edit]

Version 1.0 of the Talking Moose was released in 1986 by Steve Halls.

Version 2.0 was released in 1987, and ran on Macintosh systems 6.0.4 - 7.1. The Macintalk voice used for the Moose was 'Fred'.

Baseline Publishing eventually commercially published the talking moose, and released version 4, introducing new characters from a "Cartoon Carnival" supposedly run by the titular ungulate.

Uli Kusterer - the next author of the moose - got rid of the cartoon carnival, and worked more in the spirit of the original moose, releasing new versions starting at 1.0, which supported Mac OS 7.1 - 9.2. These were released initially on CompuServe, and later on the internet. He also developed the first OS X native version (v 3.0). The latest Macintosh version of the Moose (v3.5.7) works with all versions of OS X, 10.3 through 10.7, and includes Universal Binaries.

From January 8 2009, The Talking Moose has been posting periodic comments to a Twitter account.

External links[edit]

  • The official Talking Moose web page by Steve Halls [1]
  • Uli's Talking Moose for Macintosh v3.5.7 (Download) [2]
  • Talking Moose for Windows XP v5 (Download) [3]
  • Wired Article about the Talking Moose [4]
  • The original Moose manual from Baseline Publishing [5]
  • Stupid Mac Tricks chapter about the Talking Moose [6]
  • Pictures of Talking Moose (timeline) [7]