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Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 03:37 AM
Once upon a time I found this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a324ykKV-7Y
But it isn't complete, so I'm trying to do a better list of the early era, before AdLib (1987):

1981 - IBM PC Speaker
1983 - IBM PCjr SN76489, also in Tandy 1000 (1984)
1984 - IBM PCjr Speech Adapter
1984 - MPU-401 with MIF-IPC or MIF-IPC-A
1985 - Mockingboard from the Bank Street Music Writer package
1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board"
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer
1986 - Yamaha FB-01
1986/87, probably never released but supported in games - Microprose The Entertainer

Also possibly released before AdLib:

1987 - Covox Speech Thing
1987 - Covox Voice Master
1987 - IBM Music Feature Card
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter
1987 - Roland MT-32
1987 - Street Electronics' Echo PC+
1987? - Yam Educational Software SoundBuster

Anything else?

Scali
August 24th, 2017, 04:02 AM
There's the IBM Music Feature Card, not sure if it was released before or after the AdLib though. All I can find is that both are from 1987.
This blog claims the IMFC is from March 1987: http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.nl/2015/02/the-ibm-music-feature-card-overpriced.html
Chances are it was before AdLib then.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 05:26 AM
OK, and according to Wikipedia, MT-32 was also in 1987, so I've conditionally added them both.

Scali
August 24th, 2017, 05:36 AM
Well, depending on how you look at it, the first games with AdLib sound didn't arrive before 1988 anyway (AdLib was initially aimed at musicians, not gamers, as were the IMFC and MPU401/MT-32 by the way).
Sierra was one of the first to support AdLib, and I believe they supported IMFC and MT-32 at the same time.
Only the PC speaker and PCjr audio were really 'pre-AdLib' in that sense I suppose, as in actually being used in games.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 05:43 AM
This list is not supposed to be limited to games.
Anyway, Covox was also supported in games, though first such games were from 1989.

CarlosTex
August 24th, 2017, 08:00 AM
There's Microprose "The Entertainer" which was a SID card much like the Innovation SSI-2001, which we can speculate should be the spiritual successor (or the actual final product). Th Entertainer was advertised in some Microprose games but it seems it was never a commercial product. If someone can contact Ken Lagace (sound programmer for Microprose back in the day) maybe we can shed some more light about these cards. He should definitely know something.

"The Entertainer" it seems, was a card that would most certainly meant to be a commercial product by the end of 1986/early 1987, instead only in 1988/89 the Innovation card was a SID PC commercial product. The fact is, patching the games, you can hear SID sound on Innovation card, so it seems there should be a relationship.

I made a video about this (i'm sorry for the neverending rant):


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLaiQlAzqOY

Cloudschatze
August 24th, 2017, 08:30 AM
There's Microprose "The Entertainer" which was a SID card much like the Innovation SSI-2001, which we can speculate should be the spiritual successor (or the actual final product). Th Entertainer was advertised in some Microprose games but it seems it was never a commercial product. If someone can contact Ken Lagace (sound programmer for Microprose back in the day) maybe we can shed some more light about these cards. He should definitely know something.
I'd corresponded with Ken Legace and Roland Rizzo about the "Entertainer" board back in late 2013. Ken couldn't recall much more than the general idea of the card, but was near-certain that it was never commercially produced/released.



Anyway, Covox was also supported in games, though first such games were from 1989.
Covox introduced the Speech Thing in late 1987, for what it's worth.


Here are a few other honorable mentions:

1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board" - Intended for individualized "voice response" computing purposes, but allows for uploading up to 250 digitized samples of varying length into a 256KB sample-RAM space, which can then be played-back via simple routines
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer - 16-voice AM synthesis.
1987 - Street Electronics' Echo PC+ - LPC speech, 8-bit PCM playback, gameport.
1988 - Tandy PSSJ (IC) - Enhanced SN76496 PSG, 8-bit PCM playback, gameport.

There are also a number of "speech-synthesis-only" cards/solutions that have not been mentioned. Are those of interest?

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 10:20 AM
Covox introduced the Speech Thing in late 1987, for what it's worth.
Source?
According to Wikipedia, "the circuit was marketed around 1986", so indeed, 1987 may be true.

And I'm adding the rest, "Entertainer" conditionally.

Edit: and YES, I'm also interested in those "speed synthesis only" products.
Looks like the list is going to be pretty short anyway.
Hey, a list of pre-VGA video adapters would be probably two orders of magnitude longer!

Cloudschatze
August 24th, 2017, 10:47 AM
Source?
According to Wikipedia, "the circuit was marketed around 1986", so indeed, 1987 may be true.

Quoting an older post of mine:


The applicable patent, US4812847, lists a filing date of Oct. 2, 1987.
The "Speech Thing" trademark, 1506939, lists a filing date of March 1, 1988.
Finally, a company profile from September, 1991, re-posted from the Covox BBS, states that, "In late 1987, the IBM PC version of Voice Master made its debut along with the popular "Speech Thing"".

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 11:06 AM
OK, moving Speech Thing to 1987.
Also, conditionally adding Voice Master, even though a picture on this site - http://www.415.spb.ru/page.php?60 shows (C) 1989

Great Hierophant
August 24th, 2017, 11:45 AM
Here are three more mentions :

1984 - IBM PCjr. Speech Adapter
1986 - Bank Street Music Writer "PC Mockingboard"
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter

1ST1
August 24th, 2017, 11:45 AM
There were also some simple D/A-outputs pluggable on the parallelport. Not real soundcard, but makes digital sound as well.

eeguru
August 24th, 2017, 11:57 AM
There were also some simple D/A-outputs pluggable on the parallelport. Not real soundcard, but makes digital sound as well.

That is essentially what a Covox is. You blast mono 8-bit PCM samples 8000 times a second to a parallel port and the Covox has an R2R ladder and op-amp. The Voice Master Key added a A/D to go the other way on bi-directional parallel ports and rudimentary speech detection based on pattern matching to pre-recorded samples. Some software like CubicPlayer has support for running two Covox units on separate parallel ports to generate stereo.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 12:13 PM
1986 - Bank Street Music Writer "PC Mockingboard"
Various sources claim it's from 1985, where's the truth?
Adding the other two devices.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 12:30 PM
That is essentially what a Covox is. You blast mono 8-bit PCM samples 8000 times a second to a parallel port and the Covox has an R2R ladder and op-amp. The Voice Master Key added a A/D to go the other way on bi-directional parallel ports and rudimentary speech detection based on pattern matching to pre-recorded samples. Some software like CubicPlayer has support for running two Covox units on separate parallel ports to generate stereo.

With a Covox, you can do it much faster than 8 kHz. Of course, it all depends on CPU speed, but I recall being able to play samples via Covox faster than via any sound card, as sound cards were limited to 44 or 48 kHz.
And there's more to Covox than stereo - you can connect four such DACs and play in quadro, IIRC Modplay Pro supports this. There's a little problem installing four LPT ports in PC, as only three I/O addresses are standardized, but there were LPT cards (eg. with scanners) allowing to select non-standard I/O ports as well.

GeoffB17
August 24th, 2017, 01:23 PM
Does the MT-32 count for this list. It's just a 'tone module' connected via midi.

If it does count, then you should include any similar external midi enabled unit, i.e. keyboard, synth, module, whatever?

Geoff

commodorejohn
August 24th, 2017, 01:39 PM
With a Covox, you can do it much faster than 8 kHz. Of course, it all depends on CPU speed, but I recall being able to play samples via Covox faster than via any sound card, as sound cards were limited to 44 or 48 kHz.
Presumably the parallel-port DAC is just a plain resistor-ladder DAC (and maybe a basic filter,) plus possibly a latch? That would mean that it'd be the parallel port itself that presented the bottleneck.


Does the MT-32 count for this list. It's just a 'tone module' connected via midi.

If it does count, then you should include any similar external midi enabled unit, i.e. keyboard, synth, module, whatever?
You could make an argument for that view, but the MT-32 and the FB-01 were the first MIDI synthesizers I'm aware of that were marketed specifically as multitimbral tone generators for personal computers, and I don't think there are too many others that predate the Adlib.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 02:26 PM
Does the MT-32 count for this list. It's just a 'tone module' connected via midi.
If it does count, then you should include any similar external midi enabled unit, i.e. keyboard, synth, module, whatever?

True, but MT-32 was so widely supported in PC games that I can't possibly omit it here.
There was at least one game with FB-01 support, but when was FB-01 released?
If there were other external devices connectable to PC via MIDI, released until 1987, with explicit support in PC software, I'm willing to add them as well.

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 02:33 PM
Presumably the parallel-port DAC is just a plain resistor-ladder DAC (and maybe a basic filter,) plus possibly a latch? That would mean that it'd be the parallel port itself that presented the bottleneck.

Yes.
Only there was no latch in Covox, the latch was a part of the parallel port.

commodorejohn
August 24th, 2017, 02:35 PM
The FB-01 was from 1986; the main reason it's supported in some PC games is because it formed the actual synthesizer guts of the IBM MFC, which was essentially just a MIDI controller stapled to an FB-01. There were some other MIDI modules like the Proteus/1 that saw some support (and of course the Roland Sound Canvas and later General MIDI devices,) but as far as I know they all post-dated the Adlib.

GeoffB17
August 24th, 2017, 02:48 PM
OK, on that basis, I'll accept the MT-32.

Note, I have a Roland LAPC-I card in one of my older PCs - this is a sort of 'built-in' MT-32, in that it's very similar in most midi regards (actually it's closer to the CM-32, a successor to the MT-32).

I understand that back then, some PCs were sold as a 'games' package, including the MT-32 and the connecting (MPU-401) card.

Sierra (On-Line ?) were very involved wih the MT-32, most of their games had very strong support for the MT, and I think they also did packages of game + MT-32 (and PC as well ?).

There are sites now releasing files of the music/midi for Sierra games. They do GM versions as well, but the specific MT-32 versions are 'The Real Thing'. If I download the MT versions, I can play them via my LAPC card. Some are really pretty good musically. I found one game where the music files were composed by Jan Hammer (Police Quest 4 ?). Many of the midi composers created unique sounds to be uploaded to the MT-32 to replace ROM sounds.

Geoff

Xacalite
August 24th, 2017, 02:50 PM
Added Yamaha FB-01.
Now I'm wondering what was that game where I saw "FB-01" option? Perhaps Silpheed? Mobygames doesn't mention this sound device.

PeterNC
August 24th, 2017, 02:56 PM
Tandy 1000
Casio CSM-1
Roland D110 D10 D20

Sierra released FB-01 patches for a few games.

https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=39709

Scali
August 24th, 2017, 02:57 PM
Added Yamaha FB-01.
Now I'm wondering what was that game where I saw "FB-01" option? Perhaps Silpheed? Mobygames doesn't mention this sound device.

Various Sierra games either have an FB-01 driver, or the driver can be copied from another game. See the Nerdly Pleasures blog I mentioned earlier, it contains a list of games.
Note that the FB-01 driver is somewhat buggy... The IMFC uses a newer revision of the firmware, which supports some SysEx commands that the FB-01 does not.
They did not backport the SysEx commands to the FB-01 properly in some cases, causing missing instruments and such.

(NB: The IMFC MIDI interface is proprietary, not compatible with the MPU401. The FB-01 driver from Sierra can only be used with an MPU401 or compatible interface).

commodorejohn
August 24th, 2017, 03:05 PM
On the subject of obscure Sierra-supported MIDI synthesizers, the Casio MT-540 and CT-460 both date from 1987, although I don't think that SCI support for them predated Adlib support.

VileR
August 25th, 2017, 07:18 AM
There's also the mysterious SoundBuster (yes...) by Yam Educational Software from around 1987:
https://archive.org/stream/COMPUTEs_PC_Magazine_Issue_02_Volume_01_Number_02_ 1987-10_COMPUTE_Publications_US#page/n81/mode/2up/search/soundbuster

40461

All that's been turned up so far about it is this rather confusing description of the Apple II version (http://mirrors.apple2.org.za/Apple%20II%20Documentation%20Project/Interface%20Cards/Audio/Yam%20SoundBuster/Documentation/Yam%20SoundBuster%20-%20Description.txt).

Apple II + / IIe card for a digital synthesizer system. 20 tracks of music and rhythm devices used in the synthesis, and can create and modify sounds. SoundBuster equipped with a slot 2 at a time, and the control box, and other accessories, including sound, and provides software-only system.

Great Hierophant
August 25th, 2017, 08:14 AM
If we include the likes of the FB-01, the Casio MT-540, 460 and CSM-1, the Roland D-10, 20 & 110 we might as well include every MIDI device released between the years of 1983-1987, inclusive. Sierra and Accolade had "generic" MIDI drivers available that could theoretically work with any MIDI-compatible sound device. These devices may not have sounded very well because the MIDI was composed for the MT-32 unless you did a lot of tweaking.

commodorejohn
August 25th, 2017, 08:25 AM
Yeah, it is a good question of where to draw the line. The FB-01/MFC at least had some support outside of just Sierra, but the others...not so much.

Though the straight General MIDI drivers wouldn't count for this exercise as the standard wasn't even established until 1991.

Xacalite
August 25th, 2017, 02:00 PM
Tandy 1000

Added it as the same device as in PCjr, but I'm not sure if that's correct...
PCjr has SN76489
Tandy 1000 has SN76496
How different are these two chips? Is there any software that makes use of these differences?


Casio CSM-1
Roland D110 D10 D20

Did they have native support in some PC software?

Xacalite
August 25th, 2017, 02:15 PM
Added SoundBooster.

As for devices supported by generic MIDI drivers, I think they are covered by the "MPU-401" entry, so no point in listing them all.
However, MIDI devices supported by dedicated drivers (eg. MT-32, FB-01) definitely belong in the list.

Scali
August 25th, 2017, 02:24 PM
As for devices supported by generic MIDI drivers, I think they are covered by the "MPU-401" entry, so no point in listing them all.
However, MIDI devices supported by dedicated drivers (eg. MT-32, FB-01) definitely belong in the list.

Not 'generic MIDI' drivers, but "General MIDI" drivers.
Since General MIDI wasn't around until 1991, these drivers did not exist.
You *had* to use dedicated drivers for each MIDI device. Try hooking up an FB-01 and start up a MT-32 game.
Nothing's going to happen, because the FB-01 has its own very peculiar way of mapping instruments to MIDI channels. Even trying to program a working mapping manually isn't going to work. For starters, the FB-01 has no concept of a 'drum map' like the MT-32 does, and then there's the problem of it having only 8-voice polyphony, and requiring manual assignment for the number of voices that each instrument can use (as opposed to automatic allocation).

Only a handful of devices were ever supported. MT-32 being by far the most popular one, FB-01 a distant second, and then there were some others here and there.
Not before 1987 though.

Anonymous Coward
August 31st, 2017, 04:31 PM
Sound Buster: "Breaking the Sound Barrier"
Sound Blaster: "Blast Away the Sound Barrier"

That's an interesting coincidence.

Great Hierophant
August 31st, 2017, 08:43 PM
Added it as the same device as in PCjr, but I'm not sure if that's correct...
PCjr has SN76489
Tandy 1000 has SN76496
How different are these two chips? Is there any software that makes use of these differences?


The PCjr used a TI SN76496, as did early Tandy 1000 models. None used the TI SN76489. The differences between these two chips are unimportant for sound purposes. Later Tandy 1000 models also used the NCR8496 (discrete then integrated into the Tandy DAC), which is a clone of the TI SN76496 that does have some audible differences : http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-journey-of-pcjrtandy-sound-chip.html

The Casio CSM-1 does have some native support in certain Sierra games, musically it is identical to the CT-460. Certain games came with drivers for the Casio devices in the box. Roland D-series devices always had to have patches downloaded from Sierra's BBS, which was not a simple thing back in 1990.

Cloudschatze
September 1st, 2017, 08:49 AM
Sound Buster: "Breaking the Sound Barrier"
Sound Blaster: "Blast Away the Sound Barrier"

That's an interesting coincidence.
It definitely feels like there's more to this story.

While it's unclear as to whether the Sound Buster was ever commercially released, a short biography of Dr. Lloyd Yam, the creator, purports that he "invented computer music in 1987." Given current knowledge and understanding of the overall "PC soundcard timeline," this could be a history-altering assertion, if true.

commodorejohn
September 1st, 2017, 10:32 AM
While it's unclear as to whether the Sound Buster was ever commercially released, a short biography of Dr. Lloyd Yam, the creator, purports that he "invented computer music in 1987." Given current knowledge and understanding of the overall "PC soundcard timeline," this could be a history-altering assertion, if true.
Hardly that history-altering, considering that "computer music" dates back to the '50s.

Cloudschatze
September 1st, 2017, 11:33 AM
The context, in this case, can be reasonably constrained to just "PC soundcards." Even then, it's still a mostly hyperbolic statement, as other music-producing cards existed prior to 1987. Still, where the Ad Lib MSC and Sound Blaster are largely thought of, and referenced, as being "pioneering" products, the Sound Buster might yet be deserving of mention.

Great Hierophant
September 1st, 2017, 09:32 PM
It definitely feels like there's more to this story.

While it's unclear as to whether the Sound Buster was ever commercially released, a short biography of Dr. Lloyd Yam, the creator, purports that he "invented computer music in 1987." Given current knowledge and understanding of the overall "PC soundcard timeline," this could be a history-altering assertion, if true.

This reminds me of another Dr. who has made a history-altering assertion of inventing a certain kind of computer software technology, Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, "the inventor of email."

Trixter
September 4th, 2017, 10:16 PM
Edit: and YES, I'm also interested in those "speed synthesis only" products.


Look up Echo, Votrax, and other products which existed before 1987. The Votrax was one of a few serially-attached speech synthesizers.

Trixter
September 4th, 2017, 10:26 PM
Various sources claim it's from 1985, where's the truth?

The software that came with my Bank Street Music Writer card has files with dates that range from 3/25/1986 to 7/24/1986. Since the software and card were sold together, I think it's safe to say 1986 is the correct year.


As for devices supported by generic MIDI drivers, I think they are covered by the "MPU-401" entry, so no point in listing them all.

Is this limited to games? Music Studio came out in 1986 and supported MIDI-attached devices. I don't know exactly which ones because my copy is still sealed. (Music Studio 3.0 came out in 1988; I have unsealed copies of this I could look at, but the year is after your 1987 cutoff.)

b44ccd21
September 8th, 2017, 03:53 PM
Edit: and YES, I'm also interested in those "speed synthesis only" products.


Here's another early speech synthesis card for you...

1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker

https://books.google.com/books?id=q8fwTt09_MEC&pg=PA636

As the advert mentions it is definitely "low-cost", being
pretty much a Votrax SC-01 reference design consisting of
74xx and an LM386 amp hooked to the pc bus.

Despite hailing from 1983 it still works flawlessly in an
ISA slot on a 440BX board!

Attached are a text transcription of the manual and some
example C code I knocked up to test my card's functionality

Xacalite
September 9th, 2017, 07:37 PM
On the subject of obscure Sierra-supported MIDI synthesizers, the Casio MT-540 and CT-460 both date from 1987, although I don't think that SCI support for them predated Adlib support.
If the hardware was available in 1987, I'm including them.
But not Casio CSM-1, apparently it was from 1989 - http://www.pixelatedarcade.com/tech_attributes/overview/casio-csm-1-sound-module/

Xacalite
September 9th, 2017, 08:04 PM
The PCjr used a TI SN76496, as did early Tandy 1000 models. None used the TI SN76489.

OK, then there's a mistake in Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PCjr


Later Tandy 1000 models also used the NCR8496 (discrete then integrated into the Tandy DAC), which is a clone of the TI SN76496 that does have some audible differences

Various PC Speaker implementations (notably piezo) also had audible differences, so no point in listing all such details.
BTW: when was the first Tandy DAC released?


Roland D-series devices always had to have patches downloaded from Sierra's BBS, which was not a simple thing back in 1990.

OK, including them.

Xacalite
September 9th, 2017, 08:21 PM
Look up Echo, Votrax, and other products which existed before 1987. The Votrax was one of a few serially-attached speech synthesizers.

Not much about "Echo" - mostly some Apple II cards.
Votrax, however, made at least two cards for PC, and their chip was used on a PC card by Tecmar - adding them.

Xacalite
September 9th, 2017, 08:27 PM
The software that came with my Bank Street Music Writer card has files with dates that range from 3/25/1986 to 7/24/1986. Since the software and card were sold together, I think it's safe to say 1986 is the correct year.

OK, so I guess that Mockingboard for Apple was from 1985, and the PC variant came later.


Is this limited to games? Music Studio came out in 1986 and supported MIDI-attached devices. I don't know exactly which ones because my copy is still sealed.

Not limited to games.
If you ever feel like unboxing it, please report what's inside.

Xacalite
September 9th, 2017, 08:43 PM
1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker

Added.
I can't edit the original post anymore, so here's the current list:

1981 - IBM PC Speaker
1983 - IBM PCjr SN76496, also in Tandy 1000 (1984)
1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker (Votrax SC-01 based)
1983 - Tecmar PC-Mate Speech Master ISA card (Votrax SC-01-A + National Semiconductor Digitalker)
1984 - IBM PCjr Speech Adapter
1984 - MPU-401 with MIF-IPC or MIF-IPC-A
1984 - Votrax Votalker IB (ISA card, SC-02 based)
1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board"
1986 - Mockingboard from the Bank Street Music Writer package
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer
1986 - Yamaha FB-01
1986/87, probably never released but supported in games - Microprose The Entertainer

Also possibly released before AdLib:

1987 - Casio MT-540 and CT-460
1987 - Covox Speech Thing
1987 - Covox Voice Master
1987 - IBM Music Feature Card
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter
1987 - Roland D10, D20, D110
1987 - Roland MT-32
1987 - Street Electronics' Echo PC+
1987 - Votrax Votalker IB 2000, 6511 based software ISA card
1987? - Yam Educational Software SoundBuster

It's obvious: 1987 was a very important year in PC history. Not only for PS/2 with all the related stuff (first 386 from IBM, VGA, OS/2...), but also for the the multitude of sound devices, including the first successful add-ons.

Now, anybody willing to make a video demonstrating all the listed hardware? :)

Trixter
September 11th, 2017, 06:07 PM
Not much about "Echo" - mostly some Apple II cards.

Look for the "Echo 1000", an adapter for the Tandy 1000 EX and HX special slots. I have one but haven't had the time to set it up and test it yet. I dumped what I could here: ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/drivers/Street%20Electronics/

Latest date on the disks is 1987, so a quick estimate on when the Echo 1000 was available is 1987.


Added.
It's obvious: 1987 was a very important year in PC history. Not only for PS/2 with all the related stuff (first 386 from IBM, VGA, OS/2...), but also for the the multitude of sound devices, including the first successful add-ons.

Agreed. Also, Sierra's role in spearheading music in PC games cannot be overlooked.


Now, anybody willing to make a video demonstrating all the listed hardware? :)

I hope to cover various topics regarding odd sound devices in the coming year over at The Oldskool PC (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbdAmnmYbrHIkM-FaXb__DQ).

Trixter
September 11th, 2017, 06:18 PM
Attached are a text transcription of the manual and some
example C code I knocked up to test my card's functionality

Thanks, this is really cool to read. (IRQ for end-of-phoneme is particularly cool!)

vwestlife
September 11th, 2017, 06:42 PM
Here are three more mentions :

1984 - IBM PCjr. Speech Adapter
1986 - Bank Street Music Writer "PC Mockingboard"
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter

There was also a version of the Speech Adapter for the IBM 5140 Convertible laptop (released in 1986):

http://ohlandl.ipv7.net/5140/5140.html#Speech_Adapter

Cloudschatze
September 11th, 2017, 06:51 PM
1987 - Casio MT-540 and CT-460
1987 - Roland D10, D20, D110

These were released in 1988, for what it's worth.

Also, regarding an omission, the Creative Music System was originally released in Singapore/Malaysia during the same month the Ad Lib MSC was released in North America - August, 1987.

Shadow Lord
September 12th, 2017, 10:39 PM
There was also a version of the Speech Adapter for the IBM 5140 Convertible laptop (released in 1986):

http://ohlandl.ipv7.net/5140/5140.html#Speech_Adapter

Interesting. I didn't know about this at all and I have a pretty extensive 5140 collection... Must keep an eye out. :D Anyone out there have one of these?

Xacalite
September 13th, 2017, 11:02 AM
Look for the "Echo 1000", an adapter for the Tandy 1000 EX and HX special slots. I have one but haven't had the time to set it up and test it yet. I dumped what I could here: ftp://ftp.oldskool.org/pub/drivers/Street%20Electronics/

Latest date on the disks is 1987, so a quick estimate on when the Echo 1000 was available is 1987.
OK, found more Echo products:

Echo PC - mentioned in "Braille Monitor" from January 1986 - https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/bm/bm86/bm8601/bm860112.htm
Echo PC+ - ISA card, (C) 1987 - https://sites.google.com/site/flytrapgear/electronics/device-breakdowns/sound-cards/echo-pc-
Echo PC2 - (C) 1988 - http://www.matrixsynth.com/2016/10/street-electronics-echo-speech.html

Xacalite
September 13th, 2017, 11:23 AM
These were released in 1988, for what it's worth.

OK, Roland D10, D20, D110 are all from 1988, removed.
Casio MT-540 and CT-460, however, seem to be from 1987:
http://awolfe.home.xs4all.nl/studiocasioMT540.htm
https://reverb.com/item/3607758-casio-casiotone-ct-460-1987-white-on-black


Also, regarding an omission, the Creative Music System was originally released in Singapore/Malaysia during the same month the Ad Lib MSC was released in North America - August, 1987.

Indeed, the video linked in the original post claims that Game Blaster was from 1988, but CMS was from 1987, only rebranded to "Game Blaster" in 1988.

Current list:

1981 - IBM PC Speaker
1981 - Votrax Type n' Talk (SC-01-A based later model)
1982 - Votrax Personal Speech System (SC-01-A based)
1983 - IBM PCjr SN76496, also in Tandy 1000 (1984)
1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker (Votrax SC-01 based)
1983 - Tecmar PC-Mate Speech Master ISA card (Votrax SC-01-A + National Semiconductor Digitalker)
1984 - IBM PCjr Speech Adapter
1984 - MPU-401 with MIF-IPC or MIF-IPC-A
1984 - Votrax Votalker IB (ISA card, SC-02 based)
1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board"
<=1986 - Street Electronics Echo PC
1986 - IBM PC Convertible Speech Adapter
1986 - Mockingboard from the Bank Street Music Writer package
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer
1986 - Yamaha FB-01
1986/87, probably never released but supported in games - Microprose The Entertainer

Also possibly released before AdLib:

1987 - Casio MT-540 and CT-460
1987 - Covox Speech Thing
1987 - Covox Voice Master
1987 - Creative Music System
1987 - IBM Music Feature Card
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter
1987 - Roland MT-32
1987 - Street Electronics Echo 1000
1987 - Street Electronics Echo PC+
1987 - Votrax Votalker IB 2000, 6511 based software ISA card
1987? - Yam Educational Software SoundBuster

Cloudschatze
September 13th, 2017, 11:41 AM
Casio MT-540 and CT-460, however, seem to be from 1987:
http://awolfe.home.xs4all.nl/studiocasioMT540.htm
https://reverb.com/item/3607758-casio-casiotone-ct-460-1987-white-on-black

They're not. Here is a well-researched reference:
https://generror.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/history-of-casio-keyboards-2/


And another:


Casio MT-540 MIDI Keyboard." This is a new minisized MIDI synthesizer that includes built-in stereo speakers, PCM digitally sampled sounds and sound effects, and a complete digitally sampled percussion kit. It's one of the best-sounding Casio minikeyboards I've heard."

I'm sure other examples exist, where I've come across nothing authoritative citing a 1987 date. Ideally, the manual would list a year of publication, but the scanned examples I've come across for the MT-540/CT-460 (shared) do not.

Xacalite
September 23rd, 2017, 05:04 AM
OK, 1988 looks more plausible for MT-540, removed.
But CT-460 may be from 1987, moved to the end of list, with a question mark.

If they are both from 1988, it would reduce the list of MIDI-connected devices to FB-01 and MT-32.

1981 - IBM PC Speaker
1981 - Votrax Type n' Talk (SC-01-A based later model)
1982 - Votrax Personal Speech System (SC-01-A based)
1983 - IBM PCjr SN76496, also in Tandy 1000 (1984)
1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker (Votrax SC-01 based)
1983 - Tecmar PC-Mate Speech Master ISA card (Votrax SC-01-A + National Semiconductor Digitalker)
1984 - IBM PCjr Speech Adapter
1984 - MPU-401 with MIF-IPC or MIF-IPC-A
1984 - Votrax Votalker IB (ISA card, SC-02 based)
1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board"
<=1986 - Street Electronics Echo PC
1986 - IBM PC Convertible Speech Adapter
1986 - Mockingboard from the Bank Street Music Writer package
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer
1986 - Yamaha FB-01
1986/87, probably never released but supported in games - Microprose The Entertainer

Also possibly released before AdLib:

1987 - Covox Speech Thing
1987 - Covox Voice Master
1987 - Creative Music System
1987 - IBM Music Feature Card
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter
1987 - Roland MT-32
1987 - Street Electronics Echo 1000
1987 - Street Electronics Echo PC+
1987 - Votrax Votalker IB 2000, 6511 based software ISA card
1987? - Casio CT-460
1987? - Yam Educational Software SoundBuster

VileR
October 14th, 2017, 02:01 PM
I guess this belongs here.... DigiSound-16 from Micro Technology (1984) (https://archive.org/stream/PC-Mag-1984-10-16#page/n303/mode/1up/):


DigiSound-16

A device allowing the user to digitize and reconstruct high-fidelity audio. The DigiSound-I6 is capable of full 16-bit audio digitizing and playback, with 8-bit and 12-bit formats also programmable for less stringent audio requirements.
The device is connected to the user’s system via two parallel ports. The sampling rate can be as high as 100 kHz in mono, or 50 kHz in stereo, and it is programmable by the user. Low-pass filters are plug-in modules that allow any mix of sample rates to be used in any installation.
A built-in, first-in-first-out buffer of 32K RAM eliminates the need for buffering in the host computer and allows continuous with-disk operation in systems without DMA controllers. The buffer’s status is shown on a front-panel bar graph display.

(List Price: $2,995)
Micro Technology Unltd.
2806 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh. NC 27607

Trixter
October 14th, 2017, 02:47 PM
I guess this belongs here.... DigiSound-16 from Micro Technology (1984):

Holy crap, that sounds really amazing. However, some parts of the description don't quite make sense -- If it connects via two parallel ports, then how does it provide a 32K FIFO? Unless they meant the FIFO was on the device, but if THAT is the case, then how are they getting 50KB/s input from a standard parallel port?

Xacalite
October 14th, 2017, 08:30 PM
Amazing, indeed!
50 kHz, 16-bit, stereo - that would require 200 KB/s HDD throughput... was that possible with 1984 PCs? What was the interleave for the original IBM 5170 HDD?

https://www.mtu.com/support/mtuaudioproducts2.htm
Looks like in 1984 it was just for MTU-130, not for PC.
PC implementations were released in 1986 and 1987, so I'm adding them, of course.

Edit: come to think of it, ADC and DAC of this quality in the early 80s shouldn't be a surprise - Compact Disk was out in 1982, so there had to be some digital equipment for CD mastering, only it wasn't PC-based in the first years.

***

1981 - IBM PC Speaker
1981 - Votrax Type n' Talk (SC-01-A based later model)
1982 - Votrax Personal Speech System (SC-01-A based)
1983 - IBM PCjr SN76496, also in Tandy 1000 (1984)
1983 - Standard Microsystems PC-Talker (Votrax SC-01 based)
1983 - Tecmar PC-Mate Speech Master ISA card (Votrax SC-01-A + National Semiconductor Digitalker)
1984 - IBM PCjr Speech Adapter
1984 - MPU-401 with MIF-IPC or MIF-IPC-A
1984 - Votrax Votalker IB (ISA card, SC-02 based)
1985 - NEC SAR-10, "Audio Response Board"
<=1986 - Street Electronics Echo PC
1986 - IBM PC Convertible Speech Adapter
1986 - Mockingboard from the Bank Street Music Writer package
1986 - MTU DigiSound-16 with a DMA interface, for PC/XT Digital Audio Workstation
1986 - Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer
1986 - Yamaha FB-01
1986/87, probably never released but supported in games - Microprose The Entertainer

Also possibly released before AdLib:

1987 - Covox Speech Thing
1987 - Covox Voice Master
1987 - Creative Music System
1987 - IBM Music Feature Card
1987 - IBM PS/2 Speech Adapter
1987 - MTU DigiSound-16 and new interface card, for PC/AT ISA-bus
1987 - Roland MT-32
1987 - Street Electronics Echo 1000
1987 - Street Electronics Echo PC+
1987 - Votrax Votalker IB 2000, 6511 based software ISA card
1987? - Casio CT-460
1987? - Yam Educational Software SoundBuster

VileR
October 15th, 2017, 03:03 PM
I somehow managed to omit the URL from my previous post... here it is (https://archive.org/stream/PC-Mag-1984-10-16#page/n303/mode/1up/).
Since that's from PC Magazine's 'new hardware' section, I did assume that IBM PC compatibility was implied; but yes, I suppose that wouldn't really work with 1984-era PC tech. The 5170 itself is covered for the first time in that very same issue, so that couldn't have been the target host. ;)

stynx
October 15th, 2017, 10:03 PM
Very interesting so far. Seeing the Mockingboard in this thread was a surprise...

A bit of history: The origins of the Music synthesizer cards on Apple II and later PC is the A.L.F. "Apple Music Synthesizer" later renamed to MC16. This card was introduced in 1978 and implemented a PSG-like structure with 3 voices, very high frequency accuracy and 8bit envelope/voice. The SN76489 was inspired by this implementation and the AY-3-8910/YM2149 was 'inspired' (cloned) from the TI-chip.

The Mockingboard on the Apple II was sold in its 'common' form as "Mockingboard A" and "Mockingboard M" in 1983 and used 2x AY-3-8913 (8910 in a smaller package) as well as up to 2x Votrax chips. The Mockingboard went through several changes that were not completely compatible with each other. The Mockingboard was produced by "Sweet Micro Systems". The "Mockingboard M" was a bundle option for the Bank Street software.

It may be a possibility that the "Mockingboard PC" was never actually sold.

-Jonas

Scali
October 16th, 2017, 01:12 AM
It may be a possibility that the "Mockingboard PC" was never actually sold.

There is some extra information on that in this blog: https://trixter.oldskool.org/2011/09/09/the-pc-mockingboard/

So apparently there was a card bundled with the PC version of Bank Street Music Writer, which was at times advertised as a "Mockingboard", but is not marked as such on the card itself.
It was also sometimes referred to as "Mindscape Music Board", it would seem.

dieymir
November 21st, 2017, 08:00 AM
Not sure if the already mentioned Tecmar Music Synthesis System / Music Magic Synthesizer is the same than this Tecma ACPA (Audio Capture and Playback Adapter):

https://scientific-solutions.com/archives/ssi_history.html

The audio card designed for IBM (the ACPA) featured CD quality 16-bit digital audio recording at 44.1Khz stereo or 88.2Khz mono, 16-bit stereo playback with 2x oversampling, and real-time DSP hardware based compression/decompression (if desired). The card also featured the ability to download algorithms for the on board 10 MIPS digital signal processor (TMS320C25). Typical downloadable algorithms provide for interpolation or decimation filters to effectively provide different sample rates and MPEG/JPEG hardware assisted image decompression. The 320C25 DSP also provided for MIDI music synthesis. Incidentally, the 16-bit stereo ACPA sound card with the 10 MIPS C25 DSP was released several months before the 8-bit mono SoundBlaster product which utilized an 8051 microcontroller instead of a true DSP. IBM decided to market the sound card to the business audio market, and not to the then emerging computer-based game market.

and seems there is one on eBay:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/TECMAR-ARPA-PC-STEREO-BD-940749-REV-C-Vintage-RARE-1989-Sound-Card-ISA-/263320477253?hash=item3d4f1f9e45 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/TECMAR-ARPA-PC-STEREO-BD-940749-REV-C-Vintage-RARE-1989-Sound-Card-ISA)

commodorejohn
November 21st, 2017, 09:18 AM
That's interesting. I wonder what sort of synthesis it used for MIDI playback?

PeterNC
November 21st, 2017, 09:19 AM
http://cgi.ebay.com/263320477253

vwestlife
November 21st, 2017, 11:10 AM
That's interesting. I wonder what sort of synthesis it used for MIDI playback?

You can hear the MCA version of ACPA card in this video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkk0YW_qd-Y

Its MIDI synthesis is strange. It doesn't sound like either FM or wavetable.

Scali
November 21st, 2017, 12:15 PM
Its MIDI synthesis is strange. It doesn't sound like either FM or wavetable.

The main component on the card appears to be the TMS320C25 DSP.
This DSP has its own memory, and the DSP can be programmed.
My guess is that they have implemented a simple 'software wavetable' synthesizer on the DSP itself, in order to play MIDI.
This reminds me of the PC-Engine game console: it has a wavetable synthesizer, but since it is very limited in terms of sample size, it doesn't quite sound like what we're used to from a GUS or Sound Canvas or such. It sounds more like the chiptunes we know from Amiga and such, with very short samples.

commodorejohn
November 21st, 2017, 02:20 PM
How very strange. I think Scali may be onto something with the suggestion that it's using short, looped wavetable sounds, but possibly with a resonant lowpass filter added in as well, which would make it sort of a poor man's Korg DW-8000. The drums in particular sound like they sampled the OPL2/3 percussion sounds of all things.

vwestlife
November 21st, 2017, 04:30 PM
Just to be clear -- the synth music at the beginning of the video is not from the IBM M-ACPA's synthesizer -- it's from an audio recording of this video, played by the M-ACPA as a WAV file:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h05cqXcWq_o