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The History of CommTech

In 1999, Hasbro released the CommTech chips, which were included with 3-3/4" Star Wars action figures. Doubling up as an action figure stand, these chips contained phrases and sounds from the Star Wars movies. These chips were available in a number of different languages including: English, French, German & Italian. A device called a CommTech reader was used to play the sounds from the chips and it had some built-in sound effects on its own. When a CommTech chip is swiped past the face of the reader, the information on the chip is transferred to the reader using a technology called RFID. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification . The technology was impressive in its day, however the sound quality was considered somewhat primitive. A company called Innovision developed the technology for Hasbro.

In the early stages of development, this line was referred to as DataTalk and there were some conceptual models made to pitch the idea. The line later changed to CommTech which was used in most countries. In other countries, it was referred to as CommTalk due to some trademark issues. Early chips were developed to test the functionality of the technology. These chips were hand-made and contained a large circuit board within the chip. As development progressed, the circuits were reduced in size. Prototype first shot housings were created to hold the electronics. The production chips included a photo of the character that it belonged to. There were multiple variations of the first generation CommTech chips, click here to learn more.

As Hasbro began the transition of the "Power of the Force 2" and "Episode I" lines to "Power of the Jedi", a second wave of CommTech chips and reader were planned for release. These chips included more storage capability for "Twice the Speech". The second generation CommTech chips were redesigned to an oval shape. Prototype chips and sample carded figures were deviloped for advertising purposes. The second generation reader was developed to include removable sound cartridges for additional sound effects. Unfortunately the CommTech technology was cancelled and the second generation chips and reader never made it to toy shelves. Many of the prototypes and samples were destroyed, however some survived! Figures from this line were later released with a more cost-effective accessory known as a "Force File".