A Programmer's Dream

Tickle Me Elmo

Posted by Stephen Wrighton on 03 Jan 2009

I'm demented. I know this about myself. I find thing funny that leave most folks either scratching their heads in confusion or slightly scared; it's an either or type of thing.

So, today at work we got into this discussion on demented toys, both from our own childhoods and from our child's POV. Inevitably, this discussion then turned to automated toys. The prime example from our childhood was of course Teddy Ruxpn. The example for my kids would have to be that Tickle Me Elmo.

Now, I have two opinions on these types of toys. And by these types, I mean toys which you push a button and they do things, as opposed to you doing things to the toy. My opinion about these, is that they are designed for 1 (or both) of 2 reasons:
  1. To generate schizophrenia in our children, as their toys are talking to them
  2. To stop our kids from developing an imagination, as their toys play by themselves
A reasonable interpretation of facts, especially since there's a huge number of folks out there calling these toys "possessed," and at least one person which described the automatic Elmo toys thusly (see the description line at this link):
Good [G]od, the perfect gift for the child of your worst enemy.
Now, as I stated above, I'm demented, and I remembered from the days when my little brother had a Teddy Ruxpin, that you could make that evil thing say (or sing) whatever you wanted. After all, it was just a standard cassette tape that went into its back. Personally, I enjoyed playing Poison through the Teddy Ruxpin, but that's just me.

Now, what does this have to do with my programming blog?

Glad you asked, and if you didn't, then shame on you.

During this discussion, one of my coworkers brought up the "Death Threat Elmo." Which, as you may, or may not know, is a "Know My Name" Elmo which when its batteries were changed started saying such fun phrases as "Kill James."

Well, I was amused.

Anyways, I thought of the two Tickle Me Elmos which my boys had in their rooms gathering dust. Because, like every other automatic toy they've ever owned, my boys played with the thing for a few hours, and then went back to their "dumb" toys; they make me proud.

But I'm digressing.

So, here are these two Elmo toys, and I now have this overwhelming urge to make them say fun phrases such as:
Yes, I am demented, and now, I would not give said toys back to my children after flashing the rom.

Which brings me to my point: does anyone know anything about these roms? Has anyone flashed them, etc. I tried searching Google, but apparently, the Tickle Me Elmo dolls just aren't good fodder for folks to hack their on-board ROM. I'd rather not start this little hack from scratch (I'm lazy that way).

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