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43

I composed a small number of Amiga tracker modules at around the turn of the 1990s, one of which even enjoyed some popularity. These were made first and foremost for my personal amusement — for exploring music creation and sequencing on a computer — but they also ended up being used in some demoscene productions. My tools of choice for sequencing them were, ...


31

In theory that would have been possible from the very start. After all, music doesn't need much bandwidth (*1), especially when using synthesized form like with a sound chip such as the SID. In reality the software structure of (most) machines in the 70s and 80s would not support this. They were single program, single tasking machines and the OS was not ...


25

The four main ways were: you knew someone with the sampling card or sampler (many of samplers had the capability to sample sound in CD quality and save it to floppy disk). you bought some kind of "sample bank" you simply grabbed sounds from other MODs you generated fully artificial sound by math algorithms and computed sample data (e.g. simple ...


23

It was a DOS-Windows 3.x and DOS-Windows 9x/ME thing. It was a driver named speaker.drv, written by Microsoft. It turned off interrupts for significant periods of time, which caused I/O problems with other devices but which was inherent in the nature of the hardware. It came in a self-extracting archive named speak.exe, and could be found on the companion ...


23

On the generic early-nineties x86 systems I'm familiar with at least, redbook CD audio playback on IDE CD-ROM drives is asynchronous and autonomous. The drive would connect to the sound card through a four-pin stereo audio connector to provide CD audio as another audio source to the mixer. You could use a CD music player program to control track selection ...


18

You need to use OpenMSX, and get the system ROMs for the machine in question. Then run OpenMSX, set the machine to the FS-A1WSX. There's a little menu button at the top left of the OpenMSX window. In there, set your tape to the WAV file. Then: 10 M$ = "E4E8O3G16G32R32G2G4R4O4C8D8E8F8G2G8F8E8F4E8D8E4D8C4" 20 PLAY M$+M$ The listing above is the content of ...


16

Did they really plug a synthesizer's audio output into a line input of a sound card and digitize the analog sound? But were audio cards of the early 90s at all capable of capturing analog audio at reasonable quality? Samplers existed even for low-end machines. I remember using a sampler on my Amiga 500. It was 8-bit, but so are the .MOD samples, and sample ...


15

The topic mentions PCs but as you mention C64s specifically in the text, I can note that on the C64 it was not uncommon for utility software to have built in music (especially in the tools centered around the needs of the demo scene). Of course, that is not the same as a general purpose music player. Music was generally not really made using MIDI or audio ...


13

The Amiga was the first system where I pulled this off: It was not streaming music, but listening to so called "MOD"s, small data chunks of samples and instructions how to play them. There is still an alive(?) scene for this. These Mods could be played in the background on Amigas Multitasking OS, while you were doing something else. Update: If you just ...


8

The good news is the next few steps are easy. Most (all?) of the MSX emulators include a "virtual tape" that can open a WAV file. openMSX does for sure. It's right in the instructions for the emulator. I don't know enough about MSX to know if it stored programs as text or in tokenized format, but in either case, once it is loaded you can use the "virtual ...


8

Check this Spectrum tape interface: Pulses A 'pulse' here is either a mark or a space, so 2 pulses makes a complete square wave cycle. Pilot tone: before each block is a sequence of 8063 (header) or 3223 (data) pulses, each of length 2168 T-states. Sync pulses: the pilot tone is followed by two sync pulses of 667 and 735 T-states resp....


7

The first time I did this was on an Atari 400. Was a hack. I found out only one track was used for the program data, leaving the other one for audio. Great! I prepared a tape with some music recorded off the radio. While in basic, I could press play on the 410 data recorder, and start it with POKE 54018,52 (which I just had to go look up) to start the ...


6

I wrote a music player on my 1983 Oric Atmos, and some other people already did that before me. The Oric uses a AY-8912 soundchip. You can send orders to play waveforms with or without varying envelopes. The order is just a write into a register. Can be done from within an interrupt and the sound is issued. It doesn't take a lot of CPU. On the other hand, a ...


6

At an 8 kHz sample rate, an Apple II would only hold about 5 or so seconds of raw uncompressed audio (plus the code needed to play them, either via add-on DAC board or 1-bit PWM). Compressed audio would need maybe at least a few orders of magnitude more compute performance than the very roughly 0.2 integer "MIPs" offered by a 6502 to decompress audio in ...


6

Those variable amplitudes looks like electronics problem like failing caps somewhere along the way (recording/playback) or unshielded too long cables or partial remagnetization or even HW bug (some recorders like ELTA have a bug in writing head circuitry that corrupted tapes a bit each time it was played ...) the correct output should be a rectangular ...


5

DAC is a digital analog converter. There is no such periphery on C64, but the closest to it is the SID chip, for playing sound. Also the SID chip was not designed for that. It can play ADSR (attack-decay-sustain-release) sounds with 4 pre-configured waveforms: This can be hacked to work like a DAC. It can only 16 signal levels, but it is enough to produce ...


5

to load music on an old PC It sounds like your expectation is that you could load up a CD of The Go-Go's into disk files, and play it in the background while you work. That won't work on 70s-80s machines, as they lack either the disk space to store even compressed music, or the computing power to decompress it on the fly. It starts to become possible in ...


4

https://web.archive.org/web/20070227091822/http://download.microsoft.com/download/win98/utility/1/w9x/en-us/speak.exe Designed for Windows 3.1, though also known to work for Windows 95 and 98. When sound was played, sound could get tremendous priority, causing an inability to move the mouse cursor while sound was played. Or, alternatively, moving the ...


3

But were audio cards of the early 90s at all capable of capturing analog audio at reasonable quality? Kind of yes, but... There is relatively little "information" in audio above 10kHz, and you can even go lower than that with many sources. You can certainly recognise presence, absence, or distortion in those higher frequencies, but voice and ...


2

This question made me think of RealSound: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealSound RealSound is a patented (US US5054086 A) technology for the PC created by Steve Witzel of Access Software during the late 1980s. RealSound enables 6-bit digitized PCM-audio playback on the PC speaker by means of PWM drive, allowing software control of the loud speaker's ...


2

There actually were two common PC speaker drivers for windows. One of them is the PC speaker driver by Microsoft, already mentioned in the other answers, while the other one, written by John Ridges has not yet been mentioned. The Microsoft driver is typically installed as SPEAKER.DRV, while the driver by John Ridges is installed as SPEAKR.DRV. Currently, ...


2

The beep chip could be programmed to different frequencies. Someone with too much caffeine at MS made it into a sound card. I used it for years as my sound card at the time only did MIDI. More background on beeping and hardware https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/larryosterman/2010/01/04/whats-up-with-the-beep-driver-in-windows-7/ Windows used to beep on ...


2

Around 1997 I had a Pentium 133MHz and 32mb RAM (somewhat middle segment at the time). I remember trying to hear an mp3 on winamp and work on Microsoft Word at the same time. The words would appear a bit delayed after I typed them in, as long as the music was running. I guess that was the moment when it started being possible for the average user. On a ...


2

So was there a way to load music on an old PC (70s-90s) and when was it possible for the first time? Also what would it be like? See & hear it below. 1970 (maybe before). The PDP/8-e was introduced in 1970. This depends on what you accept as a "PC" and what bar you set for "music". A PDP8 was an expensive tool, or toy, in the 1970s, but was as close ...


2

Was definitely possible on an Apple IIGS (and I expect Amigas and other 16 bit systems of the same vintage) to play music (think midi synthesized, not sampled at CD quality for any length of time) and write documents


2

Any computer with... a dedicated sound generator chip (one that can oscillate on its own, without needing constant hand-holding from the CPU to drive the waveform) and video raster or timer interrupts (which allow you to write an interrupt service routine that will, at specific intervals, periodically update the pitch and volume registers of the sound ...


1

Supposedly, Strachey was the first at computer-generated music, on the Ferranti Mark 1, around 1951. The Mark I had a 'hoot' instruction to allow the programmer to alert the operator -- much like a Windows PC 'beep', I suppose -- and this was used as the sound source. You can find an example on this BBC page. (Grumpy-programmer aside: it's unfortunate ...


1

The IBM 1620 could play music by moving varying length numeric strings between locations in core memory. It generally played only a single line, so no harmony, but the overtone stack was great! If you wanted to do some computation at the same time, no problem. Whip out your paper, pencil, and slide rule and have it while the computer played on. Circa ...


1

Huh! No one mentioned musical line printers! When I was a wee kid and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, I was a Mainframe Operator and we made music by banging rocks together sending specially crafted ASCII art to line printers from mainframes: Clickable YouTube Video link going to the Computer History museum below: I distinctly remember the French ...


1

The Motorola 68000 (first built in 1974) inside the TI-89 graphing calculator is supposed to be able to play music by repurposing the data transfer jack cable, although I never tried it personally. See examples of programs. While I'm not certain it is possible to do something else while this runs, some of the programs listed say "able to play of the sound ...


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