Increased communication rate has long been a goal of both individuals who use AAC and device manufacturers. There is evidence that utterance-based approaches have the potential to deliver faster rates without loss of coherence. An overview of the historical development of devices that embody such approaches is set out here. This account focuses on the theoretical origins of utterance-based devices (UBDs) and the range of approaches that these have produced. Next, the issue of a causal relationship between conversational rate and positive attributions is addressed. Three recent studies supporting a causal relationship are described, followed by an account of a direct comparison between a UBD and a word construction system in office environments that involved a mix of transactional communication and social chat. Conversational rate and perceived communicative competence were both higher when the UBD was used. Finally, some issues for the future development of UBDs are discussed.