76 votes

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

The original IBM PC and later variants used an Intel 8253 or 8254 as a sound chip. The 8253 is a timer circuit, containing three timers able to generate timed interrupts or square-wave output with ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
55 votes

How did old games from 8-bit era game consoles store music?

As you already say, it was stored as "instructions to a sound chip". So it's not a simple blob of data for DA-converters, but a procedural storage. Think of it like music notes. Imagine someone ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
53 votes

How did C64 games handle music during gameplay?

Your assumptions about timing and interrupts are correct. Actually, it is surprisingly easy to add SID music to games because they tend to follow a basic pattern. Compose the tune in a C64 SID editor....
Brian H's user avatar
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44 votes
Accepted

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

The PC speaker connected to the i8253 PIT (programmable interval timer) was only for beeping. For better sound you need to bypass the PIT and use the Speaker as an I/O port with a single on/off bit ...
Spektre's user avatar
  • 7,288
41 votes
Accepted

Why do all the Speech Synthesizers have that same Voice?

The ones you list are all S.A.M, from what is now SoftVoice Inc. It was developed first for the Apple II, Lisa, Atari 8-bit machines and the Commodore 64; based on awareness of those versions, the ...
Tommy's user avatar
  • 36.9k
40 votes
Accepted

Why did the ZX Spectrum use an internal speaker?

I strongly expect that an RF modulator, which is needed to create the TV-style signal, would cost more if it had to handle sound too. A small speaker is very cheap, and often a useful device for ...
John Dallman's user avatar
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32 votes
Accepted

Was it possible programmatically to manipulate the volume as well as the pitch on computers with no sound chip?

Yes, it's possible to effectively change the volume if you're using Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), although the timbre of the note is also affected depending on playback hardware and psycho-acoustics. ...
Nick Westgate's user avatar
32 votes

Was "One-Winged Angel" an actual CD track, or generated by the PlayStation's sound chip with a few samples (SFX) added on top?

suppose it's possible that the PlayStation audio format does have the required instruments, and then they added the few repeated audio samples on top of that in the game engine There are no ...
hobbs's user avatar
  • 5,093
32 votes
Accepted

Beep command with letters for notes (IBM AT + DOS circa 1984)

This sounds like the PLAY command in BASIC. It takes a string indicating what to play, with the following notation for the features you mention: A to G, followed by optional #, +, or -, plays the ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
31 votes

Algorithm for Apple IIe and Apple IIgs boot/start beep

What is algorithms use for boot/start sound (when turn on computer) Algorithm? Well, yes, technically everything is an algorithm. In this case it's simply executing the beep subroutine during reset, ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
29 votes

What really is a sound card driver in MS-DOS?

Summary: Real ISA Sound Blaster cards don't need any drivers to initialise or support them. Later PNP Sound Blasters (SB16/AWE) and clones may need a driver that performs one-time initialisation. ...
knol's user avatar
  • 11.9k
28 votes
Accepted

Was there a way to play an hourly custom sound on Macs circa 1985-1995?

The Mac had the necessary soft- and hardware to play arbitrary sounds. It is said that the 8 bit/22 kHz DAC hardware was included on Steve Jobs' request especially for his "out of this bag" ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
27 votes

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

Fundamentally, the lack of a specialized Programmable Sound Generator (PSG) or Synthesizer led to game sound effects and music on the IBM PC that were far inferior to competitors' microcomputers and ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
27 votes

How did old games from 8-bit era game consoles store music?

You can think of the sound chip in devices such as this as a simple synthesizer, capable of emitting some basic waveforms at some designated frequency. Capabilities of these devices varied in the 8-...
Retrograde's user avatar
  • 4,506
26 votes

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

Here's typical audio from a PC speaker: https://youtu.be/ZLwri0J1S4E As you can hear, it's really only designed to make beeps of various frequencies, all the same volume level. But by quickly turning ...
snips-n-snails's user avatar
26 votes

Did the original Macintosh not have any MIDI or similar music capabilities?

The original Macintosh has a single-channel 8-bit 22kHz PCM output; it reads from memory and sets a new output level once per scan line of the video output. It’s up to software to generate waveforms ...
Tommy's user avatar
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24 votes
Accepted

Is there any music source code for sound chips?

From your source code, it looks like you're expecting to be able to find individual songs as standalone assembly listings for a 'master' CPU (such as your 8086) that you can execute to play a song on ...
Matt Carr's user avatar
  • 256
24 votes
Accepted

Who considered multimedia capability a liability for a business computers, and why?

TL;DR While multimedia capabilities were not considered a liability for business computers, some of the qualities that were lacking in the early multimedia-capable computers were enough to disqualify ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
23 votes
Accepted

Did playing sounds on the PC speaker keep the CPU busy?

Short answer: If you are content with beeps, no. If you want arbitrary sound, yes. There's three ways to get sound out of the PC Speaker: Put the timer chip into square wave mode and send frequencies ...
Rohan's user avatar
  • 386
23 votes
Accepted

What causes the glitchy sound when a GBA cartridge is removed?

One does not simply make a hot-swappable cartridge connector. For an electrical connector to handle hot-swapping well, it has to be specifically designed with that in mind. In particular, the ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
23 votes

How did Joysticks with more than 4 buttons and all those extra features work on a Game Port?

I know of a minimum of two implementations of this that, as far as I know, were done independently. Gravis's GrIP protocol, which is used in the gameport version of the Gravis Gamepad Pro. Wikipedia ...
ssokolow's user avatar
  • 6,766
22 votes
Accepted

Which communication protocol is used in AdLib sound card?

As documented by Jeffrey S. Lee, the AdLib simply provides raw programmatic access to its OPL2: The sound card is programmed by sending data to its internal registers via its two I/O ports: ... The ...
Tommy's user avatar
  • 36.9k
21 votes

Why did the ZX Spectrum use an internal speaker?

Always hard to guess why something simple hasn't been done. In case of the Spectrum it might have been to save on component price. The modulator used is the same as for the ZX81, so Sinclair was for ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
20 votes

Did playing sounds on the PC speaker keep the CPU busy?

That paragraph should be understood in the context of the preceding paragraph: The PC speaker was often used in very innovative ways to create the impression of polyphonic music or sound effects ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
19 votes

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

There is another angle complementing all these answers and even the question: The original PC was mainly designed and marketed as a boring but "reliable" business machine, building on top of ...
Rui F Ribeiro's user avatar
19 votes

Was it possible programmatically to manipulate the volume as well as the pitch on computers with no sound chip?

I think the best you could do in some cases was alter the pulse width of the basic square wave the hardware could produce. That wouldn't really change the volume, but you could make the tone "thinner"...
Chromatix's user avatar
  • 16.8k
19 votes

What causes the glitchy sound when a GBA cartridge is removed?

This game seems to be playing PCM audio from memory buffer with DMA. Normally the CPU handles playback of DMA buffers and renders new audio into buffers for playback. When you unplug the game ...
Justme's user avatar
  • 31.5k
19 votes

Did the original Macintosh not have any MIDI or similar music capabilities?

Tommy already answered the basic facts, so I would like to put the various assumption a bit into perspective. The Mac version is entirely mute, save for some random sound samples which seem to be ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
18 votes
Accepted

Commodore 64 noises during loops, flash load and others

The program running on the computer accesses memory and data bus. The address bus and data bus have varying patterns on them, depending on what the program under execution does. If the program (does ...
Justme's user avatar
  • 31.5k
18 votes
Accepted

What could SID do that APU could not?

I don’t know that this adds much beyond the information already in the question, but… A perennial problem with the SID is playing music at the same time as generating sound effects, due to the fact ...
Tommy's user avatar
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