Michael J. Freeman
Michael J. Freeman (born 1947) works in trend analysis, advanced behavioral systems, programming of smart toys, Cable television, robotics, telephony, among others. He was a professor at three American universities and a consultant to business and governments. Freeman has a Ph.D., MBA, and BA degrees.
- 1 Education and career
- 2 Developments
- 3 Cable television
- 4 Educational toys
- 5 References
Education and career
In 1969, he received his bachelor's degree in Economics and Management from the City College of New York, an MBA in 1970 in Business Management and Economics from Bernard Baruch College, and received his doctorate in 1977 from the City University of New York, majoring in Behavior Sciences and specializing in mental adaptation techniques.
Freeman was a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and at Hofstra University in the Village of Hempstead, New York. Freeman was the keynote speaker at Harvard University on November 14, 2001, at the conference, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Future. Listed in Who's Who in America 1975-2007.
He commercialized approximately forty US patents, and contributed to the work of approximately twenty-five others in educational devices, programming, telephony, laser/special effects, Cable TV, and others. Core patent claims include telephone push button tones as input to the home via branching." Patent claims also covering cable TV, addressability of cable converter boxes, digitization, interactivity, and smart-toys. He programmed and did the voice talent for interactive educational programs. He founded a U.S. Nasdq corporation to further developer patent claims for movies special effects, laser special effects, Hyper TV, and distance learning systems.
In 1960, at the age of 13, Freeman was awarded first prize in the Westinghouse Science Fair, now known as the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for his demonstration of rudimentary computer memory. This was one of the first pioneering embodiments of how computer memory could control a physical mechanism. In the 1970s Freeman turned his attention to the future field of verbal output computers.
In 1974, he created Leachim, a 6-ft, 200 pound robot assistant teacher who Freeman programmed with the class curricular, as well as certain biographical information on the 40 students whom Leachim was programmed to teach. Leachim demonstrated that voice branching could be done quickly enough to replicated understandable speech (i.e. verbal output). This method combined phonemes, words, and sentences to form verbal responsive messages. Leachim was also programmed with biographical information on students, and to simulate 'infinite patience.' Leachim was tested in a fourth grade classroom in the Bronx New York. In 1975, Leachim was reported stolen from the truck transporting Leachim back to New York from a 1-hour appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, located in Chicago. Lloyd's of London offered a $7,500 reward based on the insured value of $75,000. Corporate espionage was suspected.
In 1984, he introduced a telephone branching technology that recorded voice interactive messaging system, a process where callers hear menu options provided by an automated telephone attendant when a business is reached. The technology is officially called "automated phone menus" or "telephone branching."
ACTV Incorporated; Two Way Cable TV
In early 1984, he created core patents for interactive TV and started an American corporation named ACTV Inc. He took the company public in 1990 with the Washington Post owning a 25% share, as well as Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. providing cable TV subscribers with interacting programming." He founded a New York-based corporation ACTV. It became a publicly held corporation on May 4, 1990 and partnered with NBC TV and Showtime to test programming. It was listed on the Nasdaq stocl exchange. Freeman was the company's CEO and President until 2001. Leonard Nimoy was the company spokesperson. In 1992 Freeman hired John Lack, the founder of MTV to be president of ACTV Inc.
By June 2000, ACTV had the same market cap as Yahoo. One reason, because it had the most direct form of addressable (personal) advertising in the industry, an important feature in the future, for advertisers. In regard to sports programming, ACTV technology allows viewers to call up information and select various programming options via their cable set top TV boxes, including a selection of camera angles.
In 1975, he licensed 2-XL, considered the first smart-toy, to the Mego Corporation, a US based toy company. The toy was "monumentally successful," a bestseller in the late 1970s. 2-XL was sold in many foreign countries and the programs were translated into six foreign languages. A number of board games were created in conjunction with the 2-XL robot.
In 1992, the toy was reintroduced to the marketplace by Tiger Electronics, an American toy company based in Vernon Hills, Illinois. As before, the programmed tapes were translated into many foreign languages and sold internationally. Renowned basketball player Michael Jordan was the official brand ambassador for this new version of 2-XL. This version of the toy system became the basis of a TV game show Pick Your Brain, produced by Marc Summers Productions and Summit Media Group. The 2-XL robot in the show served as the assistant of Marc Summers, the game show host, and was voiced by Greg Berg.
2XL became one of the most successful toys in the world, and soon spun off an education division created to sell tapes to school and school systems. These tapes were different than the ones for the public market, to this day, 2XL is heralded as a very important step in the development of toys and in particular, educational toys.
TV Game Show Spinoff
Freeman was one of the executive producers and licensor for a game show spin off of 2-XL named Pick Your Brain starring host Marc Summers. It was a syndicated TV game show.  The show starred a giant-size 2-XL Robot mock up but Freeman did not do the voice.Pick_Your_Brain
Talk 'n Play
- In 1984, he created an educational game console system named Talk'n Play (also called Electronic Talk'n Play). First made by CBS Toys under the brand name Child Guidance in 1984 as Electronic Talk 'n Play. It was later produced by Hasbro under the brand name Playskool in 1986 as Talk'n Play.
As the child interacts with his/her favorite famous licensed characters, the characters direct the program and instruct the child when to turn pages in a booklet. Each program comes along with its own individualized booklet. Talk'n Play also contains a microphone so children can record their own voices alongside stories. 
Sub-licenses for programming were awarded to Sesame Street (Children's Television Workshop) and The Walt Disney Company. With this license the toy allowed interaction between children and the characters of Big Bird, Elmo, Mickey Mouse and more. A list of the 27 licensed programs created for Talk 'n Play appears on the main article page, Talk 'n Play
Kasey the Kinderbot
Kasey was a precursor of digital memory and animatronics and could teach forty different learning skills to children under seven years old.
The toy won awards as best educational toy in 2002, and the Gold Seal award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2003. Although Kasey's voice was digital, professional female voice artist Kamala Kruszka studio-mastered the initial recordings.
In 2004, The Kasey the Kinderbot line expanded with the introduction of two lower price point toys named Toby the Totbot and Fetch the Phonicsbot, plus a DVD featuring stories about Kasey. Kasey sold out of Toys R Us
In 1986, Freeman licensed a video game system to the View-Master Ideal Toy Company Inc. This system encompassed sophisticated digital interactivity considered advanced for that time period, and video games were produced by the Walt Disney Company and CTW (Children's Television Workshop). The games initially released were named: Sesame Street: Let's Learn and Play Together, Sesame Street: Magic on Sesame Street, Sesame Street: Let's Play School, Sesame Street: Oscar's Letter Party, The Muppet Show: Muppet Madness, The Muppet Show: You're The Director, and Disney Cartoon Arcade.
In 1976 at age 29, Freeman as a college professor authored a book entitled: Writing Resumes, Locating Jobs, and Handling Job Interviews, in response to the many college students who had no idea how to approach this topic. The book was originally published by Richard D Irwin, Publishers but as the book grew in sales and entered the European market, it was bought out by McGraw Hill.
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- Who's Who in America 1975-2007 (edition 61) ISBN 9780837970066
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