The well-known scientist had an opportunity to improve his communication voice but he didn’t because he wanted to honor the scientist who gave him his voice.

Dr Denis Klatt
The voice that outlived its owner - Dennis H. Klatt (March 31, 1938 - December 30, 1988).

( — May 20, 2018) — The designer of the characteristic computerized voice used by late stellar scientist Dr Stephen Hawking was Denis H. Klatt, an American computer scientist who died of cancer before the two had met.

When the technology had advanced to the stage where Dr Hawking’s real voice could be synthesized, he decided to keep Dr Klatt’s voice to honor him posthumously.

Dr Klatt sent Stephen Hawking his artificial voice in the winter of 1987. Klatt knew that it was expected that Hawking would not live for more than 5 years, and therefore he recorded and programmed the entire system himself.

Every time that Hawking spoke, we would hear one of over 300 recordings of Dr Klat’s voice.

The famous scientist was so impressed that he sent an invitation to the man who gave him a voice, but sadly, Dr Klatt passed away before the two had chance to meet in person. However, even while he was on chemotherapy, Klat worked for Hawking, and continued even when the cancer took away his own voice. Dr Klatt literary dedicated his last years to help Dr Hawking  communicate through a digital audio system.

Over the years, voice technology has advanced and Hawking was offered a better version, even one that has been modified to sound like his own voice, but judging by certain stories, he rejected them all by saying: Thank you, but the voice of my friend Denis is my voice.”

According to Reuters, in 1997 PC chipmaker Intel Corp improved Hawking’s computer-based communication system, and in 2014 they upgraded the technology to make it faster and easier for Hawking to communicate.

“It was always hard not to have a hero-complex when you start working with someone like that,” Reuters cited senior software engineer Joe Osborn from SwiftKey, the company that developed the software for Dr Hawking.

Stephen Hawking’s computerized voice became more than just a means for the scientist to communicate with the world. Over the years the famous scientist’s voice was widely used in popular culture and was used in episodes of “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”, in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, and various other multimedia projects.