Speech Filing System - Organize Office Functions Around Verbal Communication - overview

User Experience Accomplishment | 1973 - 1983

IBM researchers: Stephen J. Boies, John D. Gould, John T. Richards

Where the work was done: IBM T.J. Watson Research Center

What we accomplished: SFS -- Speech Filing System -- is a pioneering work around speech as the standard user interface in an office setting. It was the first instance of what has come to be known as voicemail, with the ability to save messages indefinitely, as well as broader activity around office documents and processes via highly reconfigurable audio processing and an audio distribution system.

Adapted from the 1983 paper: "Users compose, edit, send and receive audio messages using telephones as terminals. SFS approaches included behavioral analyses of principals' needs and irritations, controlled laboratory experiments, several years of training, observing and interviewing hundreds of actual SFS users, several years of demonstrating SFS to thousands of potential users and receiving feedback, empirical studies of alternative methods of training and documentation, continual major modifications of the user interface, simulations of alternative user interfaces, and actual SFS usage analyses."

Adapted from Wikipedia: SFS was later renamed the Audio Distribution System (ADS). ADS used the human voice and the fixed-line touch-tone telephones that predated computer screens and mobile phones. The first operational prototypes were used by 750 IBM executives for their daily work.

Related links: 1983 paper in ACM Transactions on Information Systems; Wikipedia entry; Alexander C. Williams, Jr. Award; 1984 Olympic Message System (YouTube)




Image credit: YouTube