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"...a market economy is essentially a genetic algorithm for solving resource allocation problems..."
- Charles Stross

Voice-Clock  
  A clock that could state the time out loud.  

I included this item because I thought that it might be an early use of this idea.

In the living room the voice-clock, Tick-tock, seven o'clock, time to get up, time get up, seven o'clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would.

Somewhere in the walls, relays clicked, memory tapes glided under electric eyes.

Eight-one, tick-tock, eight-one o'clock, off to school, off to work, run, run, eight-one!

From The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.
Published by Various in 1950
Additional resources -

This item comes from the story There Will Come Soft Rains, published in 1950.

I was surprised to find that the talking clock was one of the earliest proposed uses of the Edison 'talking machine', also known as the phonograph. Thomas Edison signed a contract with the Ansonia Clock Company on January 7, 1878 to develop a talking clock using the phonograph.

It turns out that one of the original lead cylinders survives from 1878, and is probably the world's oldest playable recording. Read a bit more at early talking machines.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Martian Chronicles
  More Ideas and Technology by Ray Bradbury
  Tech news articles related to The Martian Chronicles
  Tech news articles related to works by Ray Bradbury

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