Michael J. Freeman

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Michael J. Freeman
Michael J. Freeman.jpg
Alma materCity University of New York, Baruch College, City College of New York
OccupationInventor, business and government consultant, educator
Known forRobotics, electronic educational toys

Michael J. Freeman (born 1947) is an American inventor who works in trend analysis, advanced behavioral systems, programming of smart toys, cable television and robotics. He was a professor at three American universities and a consultant to business and governments.

Education and career[edit]

In 1969, Freeman 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.[1]

Freeman was a professor at Baruch College of the City University of New York,[1] 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.[citation needed] Listed in Who's Who in America 1975-2007.[2]

He commercialized approximately forty US patents, and contributed to the work of approximately twenty-five others[3][4][5][6] 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."[7] 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.[8][9][10][11]


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.[12] 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.[13]


Leachim with 3rd graders, c.1975

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.'[14] Leachim was tested in a fourth grade classroom in the Bronx New York.[15][16] 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.[17] Corporate espionage was suspected.[18]

Touch-tone phone branching/Automated phone menus[edit]

In 1984, Freeman introduced a telephone branching technology that recorded voice interactive messaging system,[19] a process where callers hear menu options provided by an automated telephone attendant when a business is reached.[20] The technology is officially called "automated phone menus" or "telephone branching."[19][21]

Cable television[edit]

The world's first Telephone Branching Machine invented by Freeman in 1979
Leonard Nimoy giving Dr. Freeman the Vulcan nerve pinch

ACTV Incorporated; Two Way Cable TV[edit]

In early 1984, Freeman created core patents for interactive TV and started an American corporation named ACTV Inc.[22] He took the company public in 1990 with the Washington Post owning a 25% share, as well as Atari founder Nolan Bushnell.[23][24][25] providing cable TV subscribers with interacting programming."[26] 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.[27][28] It was listed on the Nasdaq stocl exchange.[29] Freeman was the company's CEO and President until 2001.[30] Leonard Nimoy was the company spokesperson.[31][32] In 1992 Freeman hired John Lack, the founder of MTV to be president of ACTV Inc.[24]

Educational toys[edit]


In 1975, Freeman licensed 2-XL, considered the first smart-toy,[33] to the Mego Corporation,[34] a US based toy company. The toy was "monumentally successful",[35] a bestseller in the late 1970s.[citation needed] The programs were translated into six foreign languages. A number of board games were created in conjunction with the 2-XL robot.[35]

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.[34] Renowned basketball player Michael Jordan was the official brand ambassador for this new version of 2-XL.[36]

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, and 2XL is heralded[by whom?] as an important step in the development of toys and in particular, educational toys.[37]

TV game show spinoff[edit]

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.[38][39] The show starred a giant-size 2-XL Robot mock up but Freeman did not do the voice.Pick Your Brain

TV set of Pick Your Brain Game Show

Talk 'n Play[edit]

In 1984, Freeman created an educational game console system named Talk'n Play (also called Electronic Talk'n Play).[40] 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.

Kasey the Kinderbot[edit]

Kasey the Kinderbot toy was designed, developed, and sold by Fisher-Price a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, using an interactive robot concept licensed from Michael J. Freeman.[41]

The toy won awards as best educational toy in 2002, and the Gold Seal award from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2003.[42] Although Kasey's voice was digital, professional female voice artist Kamala Kruszka studio-mastered the initial recordings.[43][44]

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.[45] Kasey sold out of Toys R Us[46]


In 1986, Freeman licensed a video game system to the View-Master Ideal Toy Company Inc. This system encompassed digital interactivity considered advanced for that time period, and video games were produced by the Walt Disney Company and CTW (Children's Television Workshop).[47] 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.[48][49]


In 1976, Freeman authored a book entitled: Writing Resumes, Locating Jobs, and Handling Job Interviews. The book was originally published by Richard D Irwin, Publishers but was later bought out by McGraw Hill.[50][51][52]


  1. ^ a b "Making Learning Fun: Inventor-Innovator Michael J. Freeman" (PDF). Baruch Alumni. August 2016.
  2. ^ Who's Who in America 1975-2007 (edition 61) ISBN 9780837970066
  3. ^ "Patents". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Patents". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Patents". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Michael J. Freeman Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications - Justia Patents Search". patents.justia.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  7. ^ http://www.freepatentsonline.com/bibliography.html
  8. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/IATV:US-actv-inc
  9. ^ http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/9512052915/georgia-chooses-actv-major-distance-learning-project
  10. ^ http://slideplayer.com/slide/8493728/
  11. ^ "Michael J. Freeman Inventions, Patents and Patent Applications". Justia Patents Search. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  13. ^ Continental Magazine, October 1990, V-3, #10, Cover story, Pgs 36, 54. 57
  14. ^ Cover Story, Scholastic Newstime magazine, Vol 44, No. 13, May 9, 1974
  15. ^ "The Robot in Room 317". Scholastic Magazine. 44 (13). May 9, 1974.
  16. ^ "The Robots Are Coming". New York Magazine. 12 (30). July 30, 1979.
  17. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1975/07/17/archives/lloyds-is-offering-7500-for-return-of-machine-robot.html
  18. ^ Insurance Reports, Vol=17, Transcript #422
  19. ^ a b "Your Call Is Important to Us". Kiplinger's Personal Finance. 57 (2). February 2003. ISSN 1528-9729.
  20. ^ Freeman, Michael J. (16 Mar 1982), Verbally interactive telephone interrogation system with selectible variable decision tree, retrieved 2016-09-22
  21. ^ BenchmarkPortal, Dr. Jon Anton (2005-07-12). "Article: Empower Your Callers With Self-Service Speech Recognition". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  22. ^ http://www.google.com/patents/US4602279
  23. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1992-06-07/business/fi-404_1_cable-tv-business/2
  24. ^ a b http://articles.latimes.com/1992-06-07/business/fi-404_1_cable-tv-business
  25. ^ "New TV System Lets You Create Own Programming". Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search news.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  26. ^ "Waycross Journal-Herald - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  27. ^ http://articles.latimes.com/1989-04-21/entertainment/ca-2285_1_tv-signal-nbc-tests-high-definition-signal-david-sarnoff-research-center
  28. ^ http://www.dmnews.com/news/actv-prepares-web-test-with-showtime/article/63044/
  29. ^ "Toledo Blade - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  30. ^ "Do-It-Yourself TV". Popular Science. 233 (5): 60. November 1988. ISSN 0161-7370.
  31. ^ "Leonard Nimoy". Pinterest. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  32. ^ "Almost Famous Interactive television company ACTV has been the next big thing in the entertainment field for 18 years. Here's how the startup has managed to keep the dream alive. Sort of". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  33. ^ http://mentalfloss.com/article/87066/remembering-first-smart-toy-2-xl
  34. ^ a b "Retro Tech: Mego's 2-XL". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  35. ^ a b "Mego Museum Spotlight : John and Linda McNett". megomuseum.com. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  36. ^ "World of 2-XL: The More Information Button: 2-XL on TV". 2xlrobot.com. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  37. ^ Taylor, Paula (1982). Kids' Whole Future Catalog. p. 101. ISBN 0-394-850904.
  38. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112121/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
  39. ^ http://www.tv.com/shows/pick-your-brain/
  40. ^ "Electronic Talk 'n Play". Best of the 80s. 2011-12-20. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  41. ^ "Kasey the Kinderbot by Fisher Price - The Old Robots Web Site". theoldrobots.com. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  42. ^ "Fisher-Price Reports Strong Retail Sales For Kasey The KinderbotTM (NASDAQ:MAT)". investor.shareholder.com. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  43. ^ "Theatre: Kamala Kruszka | California State University, Bakersfield". csub.edu. Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  44. ^ Sune Nagusi (2013-12-18), Kasey the Kinderbot's appearance on CNN-fn, retrieved 2016-09-23
  45. ^ "Fisher-Price Announces Two New Learning Platforms and Major Expansion of Existing Systems for 2004 | Business Wire". businesswire.com. Retrieved 2016-09-23..
  46. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB1039739403652914393
  47. ^ "Popular Science". November 1988.
  48. ^ http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/ViewMasterInteractiveVision
  49. ^ http://imgur.com/gallery/tkG1V
  50. ^ https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/writing-resumes-locating-jobs-handling-job-interviews-m-freeman/1001779161
  51. ^ https://www.amazon.ca/Writing-Resumes-Locating-Handling-Interviews/dp/0256018715
  52. ^ https://xenbook.gq/current/ebooks-box-writing-resumes-locating-jobs-and-handling-job-interviews-a-comprehensive-guide-for-the-job-hunter-rtf-0256018715-by-michael-j-freeman.html