View Full Version : Score! Early prototype Sound Blaster.

Anonymous Freak
June 11th, 2010, 07:57 PM
Just got a load of old MS-DOS games off Freecycle, and along with it a boxed Creative Music board, and a hand-made early prototype "Creative Technology Killer Board", aka "Sound Blaster 1.0" upon release.

It is what is obviously a custom-printed PCB (with CT 1320 stamped on,) with all the chips hand-soldered on, and lots of patch wires.. There is a sticker on the back that reads:

This prototype version of Killer Card remains the property of Creative Labs Inc. To be returned to CLI after evaluation. Final version will be available soon. (C) Copyright Creative Labs Inc. 1989

June 11th, 2010, 07:59 PM
I wonder what it would fetch on Ebay?

June 11th, 2010, 08:07 PM
I wonder what it would fetch on Ebay?

You have to be careful, it is marked as their property. Intel has snagged back evaluation versions of its CPUs showing up on eBay, that are marked the same way. eBay looks at it as stolen property truly belonging to the company.

Anonymous Freak
June 11th, 2010, 08:10 PM
What, are you kiddin' me? I'm not gonna sell it, I'm gonna use it! I have a PC-AT to throw it in.

(And I know all about Intel taking back CPUs, I used to troll eBay and report the Q-spec auctions to Intel security when I worked there.)

June 11th, 2010, 08:55 PM
Probably not much--I have prototype WD floppy controller cards--half-populated with patch wires and identified as such.

There's "prototype" and "prototype sample". A true prototype was a one-off deal (e.g. the first TTL wire-wrap of the 6809 CPU). Prototype samples were far more common and distributed to customers for evaluation purposes. Intel kept pretty close tabs on pre-production steppings of most of their chips--you usually returned them when the next revisions came out.

Tiberian Fiend
June 11th, 2010, 10:21 PM
It is what is obviously a custom-printed PCB (with CT 1320 stamped on,) with all the chips hand-soldered on, and lots of patch wires.. There is a sticker on the back that reads:

Pics or it didn't happen.

June 11th, 2010, 10:23 PM
agreed, i wanna see pics of that thing

Anonymous Freak
June 11th, 2010, 11:56 PM
Here you go!
edit: yay for low quality cell phone pics! I'll scan it sometime in the next couple days.

Anonymous Freak
June 12th, 2010, 12:42 AM

The Creative Music System is apparently more rare than I thought! It's the pre-"Game Blaster" named one. Boxed. Looking like it had never been used. (The floppies are still sealed in their bag!)

June 12th, 2010, 11:19 AM
WOW! THAT is cool!! Very nice find! I'm working on a simple D-A converter for my SWTPC 6800, but I don't think it will look as cool as that! Great find!


June 12th, 2010, 04:05 PM
You lucky dog! :O

June 12th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Good luck to any company snagging anything out of me!

June 12th, 2010, 04:56 PM
Just got a load of old MS-DOS games off Freecycle, and along with it a boxed Creative Music board, and a hand-made early prototype "Creative Technology Killer Board", aka "Sound Blaster 1.0" upon release.

It is what is obviously a custom-printed PCB (with CT 1320 stamped on,) with all the chips hand-soldered on, and lots of patch wires.. There is a sticker on the back that reads:

Sweet find.

BTW, did you ever asked the original owner how he obtained the card? Or better yet, asked him if he worked for Creative Labs (and get some inside stories)?

Anonymous Freak
June 12th, 2010, 06:00 PM
He worked for a company called "Headstart" (a defunct company, not the pre-kindergarten nonprofit of similar name now,) that had access to it for some reason. When the company went under, he snagged it. He offered it to Creative a couple years ago, figuring they might have a company museum or something, but they didn't want it.

Anonymous Freak
June 15th, 2010, 10:37 PM
For those that are curious, I scanned the cards and the box; and got a bit of backstory from the previous owner.

Both cards power up just fine, but the ISA-equipped machine I grabbed is devoid of any fixed disks, so I just threw SBTEST2.EXE on a boot disk to see if it reported the cards.

Warning: The PNGs are 300dpi, about 7-10 MB each. The JPGs are resampled to 100dpi, compressed, so 100-500 KB each.


Both of the sound cards were samples sent to HeadStart Computers circa 1988. HeadStart made low-end PC clones with bundled software, which was very unusual at the time. They jumped on the "Multimedia PC" bandwagon -- a Microsoft project -- and got all sorts of interesting gear, including then-exotic internal CD-ROM drives.

The "Killer Card" came with a couple of demo disks and xeroxed instructions. (The demos were very similar to the demos in the boxed Creative Organ card.) There had been computer sound cards before it, and in fact the "Killer Card" emulated the most popular, but it included a analog-digital circuit for recording voices and music, and a DAC for playing it back. This was a really dramatic innovation for a low-end PC; I remember upsetting co-workers while playing with it by playing a fire truck siren.

Well. HeadStart never released a machine with a sound card by the time it went under, but the "Killer Card" went on to become the Sound Blaster, which set the standard for PC audio. I saved the card, and lots of other odd stuff, from the "toss out" pile that accumulated as we cleaned out the office.

If it helps make connections: HeadStart was co-founded by Harry Fox, who was behind the SpectraVideo computers. These were really odd home machines that used a cp/m-like disk operating system created by Microsoft. I got a couple from Fox's warehouse manager; solid and functional compared to Atari and Commodore PCs, but the promised software line from Microsoft never materialized. I donated them to another basement computer museum in the mid-nineties.

June 15th, 2010, 11:12 PM
I have a DAK catalog from 1990 with a Headstart XT clone in it. That must've been the last of the leftover stock closeouts.

The Spectravideo computers were designed to be pseudo-MSX-compatible. MSX computers were really huge in Japan, but never caught on in America -- in fact, the feared takeover of the U.S. home computer marketplace by the Japanese never materialized; instead, they took over our home video game market.

June 16th, 2010, 12:55 PM
You, Sir, have veritable GOLD in your hands. It's cool that you're not just putting that "killer card" prototype in a display case or on a pedestal somewhere, but actually going to put the hardware to good use, but I don't think I have to tell you how careful you should be with it. By the way, did SBTEST2.EXE actually detect both cards? What were the results?

By the way, thank you for the high resolution scans! I stored them, so I can study the PCB traces and components in some more detail. That might prove useful if I am to go ahead with my crazy DIY sound card idea (http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?20743-Here-s-another-project-proposal-an-8bit-ISA-%FCber-sound-card/page2).

June 16th, 2010, 01:06 PM
Nice serial number (015760) on that CMS card. I have a SB Pro 2 with serial number of 702015, and a SB16 with serial number 111380.

June 16th, 2010, 01:36 PM
How about this for a "Sound Blaster" card?

Click for large version: http://www.deep-shadows.com/hax/Images/sb_large.jpg

Found on: http://www.deep-shadows.com/hax/

HW Sound blaster 1.0 emulator

There was a time when Sound blaster was so high-tech and cost so much, that rare people own it. Using my knowledge of digital electronics, I developed and built Sound blaster 1.0 compatible card. It has about 30 chips (just a logical elements, no microcontroller) and emulated digital part of Sound Blaster 1.0.

Actually, emulating Sound Blater 1.0 is easy. There
are only two output modes: immediate byte-to-DAC
output and DMA output. Also care must be taken to
emulate SB responce behaviour so games could
detect that SB is present. Since all games used
standart library from Creative, SB detection
pattern was known and was hard-wired into
emulator. By using simple trigger-switching, it was
possible to emulate SB without microcontroller.
I also seen microcontroller-based SB emulator
from other author somewhere in the net.

Date: 1996
Platform: DOS
Status: Closed
Comments: Unfortunatelly, schematics and firmware have been lost.

Anonymous Freak
June 16th, 2010, 01:38 PM
The SBTEST2 output is posted on my thread about these over on another forum: