Yes, they came in three for me today. In the morning, I saw that Steirs had passed. Just after noon, I heard that one of my aunts had died. Then I heard about Bannister later in the afternoon. He was the same age as my aunt.Two athletes: Sir Roger Bannister (he of the first sub-4:00 mile) at 88 and soccer player Davide Astori at 31; and actor David Ogden Stiers (of MASH TV fame) at 75.
I'm not quite certain how sophisticated the technology was in the 80s when Hawking first got it, but it was developed in California. So it makes sense why it may of been fine tuned to sound more "American" at the time. I know in more recent years they have gotten better with the tech in regards to pitches of sounds, regional dialects and people's speech patterns. Shortly before he died Roger Ebert also got one (due his throat cancer ordeal) and it sounded nearly identical to his real voice.Full disclosure: if that were me, I am fairly certain I would not have handled that condition for so long. I also didn't know his voice modulator was an American accent (according to one report), as I assumed they were just a standard voice sound.