View Full Version : Solid State Music SB1 music synthesizer

Roland Huisman
November 9th, 2014, 12:17 PM
Hello everyone,

Does anyone know the S100 SSM SB1 music synthesizer card?
I have the full original documentation, schematics and original 8" disk.
But unfortunately no card...

I wonder what you can do with the SB1. I've read also about
a Solid State Music System which contained 5 of these cards.
I would be great if you can do something with it like the Fairlight CMI.
But it seems the SB1 can't record samples like the Fairlight CMI.
Although you can edit and play your own wave forms with the SB1.

Only, I don't have a card. The schematic is quite straight forward. There are
no firmware containing components on it. So it should be possible to make it.

Does anyone here got this card? Or does anyone know more about this system?

Regards, Roland

21397 21398

November 9th, 2014, 04:30 PM
I have the homebrew predecessor to this card, built from an article written by Malcolm T. Wright of SSM. It seems pretty straightforward, just a General Instruments synth chip interfaced to the S-100 bus. Not sure if it's related to your documentation other than being a SSM creation for the S-100 bus.

Roland Huisman
November 11th, 2014, 12:43 PM
Hello Glitch,

That's interesting. Do you know if this article from Malcolm T. Wright is on-line somewhere?

The SB1 does not have special electronics. The only special component is a VCA.
All other electronics are just digital chips and memory. The biggest chip is the 8255.

Regards, Roland

December 5th, 2014, 05:42 PM
I have one of these SSM boards that I bought bare with the manual at the San Jose, CA Computer Show like 30 years ago and never finished.

Besides the partially built board and manual, I think I have the software around here somewhere.

One board is one voice.

Want it? Make an offer.

Roland Huisman
December 6th, 2014, 12:57 AM
Nice. I've sent a pm.

Regards, Roland

December 6th, 2014, 04:36 AM
Hi All;
Roland, Would/could You make a copy of the Manual, I would like to see it, especially if there is a schematic and code listing..
Thank You Marty

Roland Huisman
December 6th, 2014, 05:32 AM
Hello Marty,

I have the complete source of the program on paper. Including all schematics and modifications.
The paperwork is not scanned yet. It is quite a lot... A stack which is about
3/4 inch thick and it is printed on both sides of the paper. If I can get my hands
on such a board for a decent price I will probably scan the documents.

The program runs on CP/M btw....

Regards, Roland

December 6th, 2014, 05:51 AM
Hi All;
Thank You, Roland, for letting me know..

December 6th, 2014, 06:25 AM
The Company named ALF produced several S100-Bus based Synthesizer with similar functionality before moving to the Apple II.
I have a LP recording from that synthesizer as well as a PSG like Card.
The Quality of my recording skills is seriously lacking ;-)



Roland Huisman
December 6th, 2014, 08:10 AM
Wouha! That really sounds like old computer games!
Do you have more info about that card?

The SSM SB1 doesn't have any standard sound chips.
You can edit your own wave forms in the software.
It supports eight voices with eight boards. Really wonder
what that would sound like...

Regards, Roland

December 6th, 2014, 10:32 AM
The ALF Products were called
"AD8" and "Quad Chromatic Pitch Generator"

AD8 Music Synthesizer

ALF's first computer-controlled music synthesizer, designed in 1976-1977, was called the AD8 (a homophone of 88, the number of keys on a piano). It was intended for use with any S-100 computer, but could be used with any computer via a parallel bus. The primary hardware was a one-voice synthesizer card; up to eight cards could be used to create a polyphonic system with one to eight simultaneous voices. A controller card, which had its own 6502 processor, connected to the user's computer and the synthesizer cards. Each one-voice card had the following controls:

An 8 octave range (96 pitches)
Volume control with 256 levels
Two programmable waveform generators
Scanned-RAM D/A with 64 elements
256 amplitude levels per element
A low-pass filter with 16 levels
An envelope generator
Rise rates of 0.004 to 1.3 seconds in 256 steps
Fall rates of 0.003 to 7.8 seconds in 256 steps
256 sustain levels
Stereo channel selection (left or right)
The AD8 was also able to produce various white noise effects, which were particularly useful for percussion sounds, by programming the waveform-RAMs with random numbers.
ALF created a demonstration record, "Computer Controlled Synthesizer Performances", containing performances from Mesmerelda and the AD8.
Costing almost twice a much as the Altair 8800 or similar computer required to control it, the AD8 was too expensive for most hobbyists at the time. Few systems were sold.

The AD8 contained up to 8 Soundboards with one voice each that were controlled by a S100-Bus Control-Board.
You could create simple additive FM-synthesis with the AD8.

Quad Chromatic Pitch Generator

S-100 version of the Quad Chromatic Pitch Generator.
Around the same time as the AD8, ALF sold a simple pitch generator card in two versions: one that plugged directly into an S-100 computer, and one that could be connected to any computer via parallel interface. Each card could produce four simultaneous voices, and multiple cards could be used in an S-100 system. There were no controls other than pitch (the same 8 octave range as the AD8 ). It could serve as a computer-controlled sequencer by connecting the individual voices to external equipment, such as conventional analog synthesizers. Additionally, a standard audio cable allowed connection to an ordinary audio system.

The QCPG was originally intended to control synthesizers with its 4 Voices.

The sound-samples i linked (and recorded from LP) have samples from both systems.


December 6th, 2014, 10:10 PM
You can buy a CD of the Philadelphia Computer Music Festival (http://www.swapmeetdave.com/PhilaMusic/)

Jesús González Rubio: Mexican Hat Dance
RCA COSMAC Mel Richman

Scott Joplin: Maple Leaf Rag
RCA COSMAC JoeWeisbecker

J.S. Bach: “Little” Fugue in G minor, BWV 578
RCA COSMAC Gooitzen van der Wal

Lennon & McCartney: Hey Jude
RCA COSMAC Andrew Modla

J.S. Bach: Suite for Orchestra #2 in B minor, BWV 1067
RCA COSMAC Gooitzen van der Wal with flute accompaniment by Gooitzen van derWal

George Cohan: Yankee Doodle Dandy
RCA COSMAC Andrew Modla

J.S. Bach: Fugue in G major, BWV 577
ALF John Ridges

J.S. Bach: 2 Part Invention in C Major, BWV 772
ALF John Ridges

Johann Pachelbel: Canon in D major
ALF John Ridges

Rimsky-Korsakov: Flight of the Bumblebee
SSM Malcolm Wright & Steve North

Flight of the Bumblebee (backwards)
SSM Wright & North

Robert Sherman: It’s a Small World
SSM Wright & North

Neil Diamond: Desiree
SSM Malcolm Wright

J S. Bach: Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
NOTRAN Hal Chamberlin

George Cohan: Yankee Doodle Dandy
Software Technology David Ahl

Chattaway & Mills: Red Wing
Schertz Donald Schertz

Johann Wanhal: Rondo from Sonata in B flat Newtech
Dorothy Siegel with clarinet accompaniment by Dorothy Siegel

Synthesized computer speech demonstration
Bell Labs D. H. Van Lenten

Roland Huisman
December 10th, 2014, 11:23 AM
Interesting, there are also a few SSM music parts on that.
It seems only one channel was recorded on some songs.
You can hear them here also: http://www.vintagecomputermusic.com/

The music quality is quite poor of the cards to say the least.
I wonder how many voices (cards) were used there...

Regards, Roland

Al Kossow
November 18th, 2015, 08:02 AM
Hello everyone,

Does anyone know the S100 SSM SB1 music synthesizer card?
I have the full original documentation, schematics and original 8" disk.
But unfortunately no card...

I just acquired a card, and it turns out we have one in the CHM collection, but we don't have the docs or software.
Do you still have it?

Roland Huisman
November 22nd, 2015, 02:17 AM
Hello Al,

Nice! I still have two original disks and the documentation.
I can sent you the disk image but the documents are still waiting to be scanned.

Regards, Roland

Al Kossow
November 22nd, 2015, 09:08 AM
Hello Al,

Nice! I still have two original disks and the documentation.
I can sent you the disk image but the documents are still waiting to be scanned.

Regards, Roland

thanks! There is a scan at http://retrowagon.org/wiki/index.php/Solid_State_Music_SB1
but the quality isn't great

Roland Huisman
December 5th, 2015, 10:07 AM
Did you got my files?