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History of the Sound Card: How It Came About

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History of the Sound Card: How it Came About

The very first sound card every manufactured was a Sound Blaster card. Far West was the manufacturer of the first Sound Blaster sound card. Let's step back a little in time to take a look back at when sound cards haven't even yet existed.

"Computers were never designed to handle sound." Before sound cards were invented, the only sounds you would hear from a computer would be the beeps that would tell you if something was wrong with the computer. That's all! No sounds would accompany any games, you couldn't play music at all, nothing! Computer programmers wanted to use the beeps for games they created, and so they would program the beeps into their games. However, it would be "awful music as an accompaniment to games like Space Invaders".

Far West came up with the solution, thus the invention of the first Sound Blaster sound card. It still wasn't good quality music, but it was a big step up from just the beeps. "It could record real audio and play it back, something of a quantum leap. It also had a MIDI interface, still common on sound cards today, which could control synthesizers, samplers and other electronic music equipment". The first sound card was of 8 bit 11 kHz audio quality, similar to an AM radio.

There are two parts to the "complicated piece of electronics", the sound card. ADC and DAC were they. ADC is the analog-to-digital converter and DAC being the opposite (digital-to-analog converter). ADC took an analog signal from a device and converts it to digital signals for the computer to use, as DAC did the exact opposite, taking a digital signal and converting it to analog. However, in the future, there will be no use of ADC and DAC since "both speakers and microphones will be able to directly record and playback digital signals directly". An example of ADC would be a sound through the microphone being recorded into the computer. A CD player is an example of a device that uses DAC.

Digital audio has its advantages. One would be that "no matter how many times it is copied it remains identical". It does not degrade analogue sources. An example of an analogue source is vinyl. A leap up to 16 bit 44.1 kHz was a major development. This is the quality of a CD. This became a problem for the ISA bus. It wouldn't be able



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