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"I suspect that religion is a necessary evil in the childhood of our particular species. And that's one of the interesting things about contact with other intelligences: we could see what role, if any, religion plays in their development."
- Arthur C. Clarke

Lecton  
  A device that would read aloud an electronic text book.  

Waking up in the future is never easy - after a few centuries, technology advances.

The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents. They can be read the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it. But optons were little used, the sales-robot told me. The public preferred lectons - like lectons read out loud, they could be set to any voice, tempo, and modulation. Only scientific publications having a very limited distribution were still printed, on a plastic imitation paper.
From Return from the Stars, by Stanislaw Lem.
Published by Not known in 1961
Additional resources -

Compare this item to the reading machine from Robert Heinlein's 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

Notice also that this is not simply a "book on tape." This is a performance that the user can alter - setting voice, tempo and modulation. See this article on Vocaloid Voice - Soul Singing Synthesis for a modern example of this technology.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Return from the Stars
  More Ideas and Technology by Stanislaw Lem
  Tech news articles related to Return from the Stars
  Tech news articles related to works by Stanislaw Lem

Lecton-related news articles:
  - Kindle 2 Reads Aloud, As SF Writers Predicted
  - iPad With VoiceOver Reads Aloud
  - Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing

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