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The forgotten IBM PS/1 Audio Card (with IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000 sound)

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    The forgotten IBM PS/1 Audio Card (with IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000 sound)

    This seems to be a forgotten sound card in the history of PC audio:

    Originally posted by IBM PS/1 press release

    The Audio card, which fits into the system unit, includes the following:

    3 voice synthesizer plus noise generator
    Joystick connector for one Joystick
    Microphone connector
    MIDI interface connector

    The MIDI cable, provided with the Audio card and Joystick option, splits the single audio card midi connector into the industry standard MIDI in/out/through.

    Since this card has been designed exclusively for the IBM Personal System/1 Computer, applications wanting to take advantage of all its capabilities have to be written specifically for the IBM PS/1 Computer.

    MIDI applications available today in the market will not run on an IBM PS/1 Computer unless re-written to the IBM PS/1 hardware interface (device driver).
    The "3 voice synthesizer plus noise generator" sounds an awful lot like our old friend, the IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000 sound system... and the microphone connector and joystick port implies that it has the functions of the Tandy DAC audio, too.

    The "Sound Cards That Time Forgot" thread says "IBM PS/1 Audio/Joystick Card: This is not an ISA card, but connected to a special connector on the early IBM PS/1 systems. It is capable of three-voice music (like a Tandy 1000?) and digitized sounds. More than that is unknown. It also a gameport and a midi port."

    I found this video on YouTube, and indeed, the PS/1 audio card sounds identical to PCjr / Tandy 1000 sound on Silpheed, plus DAC audio for the digitized speech:

    In addition to having DOS in ROM, it sure looks like IBM was trying to copy Tandy, and also to keep the best feature of their own PCjr!

    I think that sounds pretty good! I bought a 2011 model a little while back but didn't do my homework, I didn't realise that they don't have ISA slots, and that my only option for expanding the sounds is one of these impossible to find "sounds cards that time forgot".

    I saw a thread a while back in which someone described making their own, it may even have been here??


      Yes, I built an AdLib compatible sound card based on the OLP3 chip that plugs on that connector. The PS/1 Audio Card is supported only in a few games, having an AdLib compatible card is a better option.
      My videos:
      IBM PS/1 model 2011 restored and enhanced
      IBM PC Advanced Diagnostics Cassette load


        According to the list on Mobygames, the PS/1 Audio Card was supported by 60 games, mostly by Sierra. Silpheed was updated to support it (in version 3.2), and was bundled with the card:

        It can also be used in Sierra games in conjunction with a Roland MT-32 synthesizer connected to the MIDI/joystick port, with the 3-voice/DAC chip providing the sound effects and the MT-32 providing the music.


          I looked for a PS/1 Audio Card for a few years. Enough folks have them that they're not as rare as some things. The MIDI capabilities are definitely a nice addition, and make for one area where IBM one-upped Tandy's PSSJ.

          It's a shame IBM didn't follow Rob Hubbard's advice...


            Ah yes, I remember that card. I saw it as part of an overpriced kit deal in ebay years ago. Always wanted to see how well it performed.
            [Need something to waste time on? Click here to visit my YouTube channel CelGenStudios]
            [No time for videos? Click here to visit my Twitter feed @CelGenStudios]

            = Excellent space heater


              Man, I wish I had that Silpheed original floppy... One of the few from that era that I'm missing from the collection! hehe... but - it's something left to hunt!!
              Currently seeking:
              * Roland MPU-401/AT (with daughter card header)
              * Magitronic K-156 Keyboard (5pin DIN w/ XT-AT switch)
              I also collect PC and C64 Sierra On-Line software!


                Originally posted by Maverick1978 View Post
                Man, I wish I had that Silpheed original floppy... One of the few from that era that I'm missing from the collection! hehe... but - it's something left to hunt!!
                Well, if just the contents will suffice:



                  Thanks for the link, cloud, then and now! I actually saw that quite awhile back. I'm just a Sierra nut after the disk for my collection...
                  Currently seeking:
                  * Roland MPU-401/AT (with daughter card header)
                  * Magitronic K-156 Keyboard (5pin DIN w/ XT-AT switch)
                  I also collect PC and C64 Sierra On-Line software!


                    I finally got the PS/1 audio card, New In Box! I paid more for it than I did for the PS/1 computer itself, but such is life.

                    But mine came bundled with "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" instead of Silpheed, and Cloudschatze's link above is now dead. Does anyone have a copy of the PS/1 version of Silpheed?

                    (click to embiggen)


                      It's a version I don't have archived, sadly. Picture here:

                      Hopefully someone can locate it.
                      Offering a bounty for:
                      - A working Sanyo MBC-775 or Logabax 1600
                      - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)


                        Originally posted by vwestlife View Post
                        ...Cloudschatze's link above is now dead.

                        I bought this bundle back in 2013:

                        Wasn't aware that IBM had a separate bundle for parents who hate their children.

                        By-the-way, here is a driver package that extends support of the PS/1 audio card (both MIDI and "4-voice") to Sierra's SCI0-based adventure games, along with Thexder II. You're probably already aware that Sierra's later titles (up until SCI32) shipped with PS/1 audio card support.



                          So what's the sound chip under the hood? I'm suspecting a clone of the TI SN76489, maybe in that big VLSI array, since that sound architecture was what was in the PCjr and Tandy 1000.
                          I use my C128 because I am an ornery, stubborn, retro grouch. -- Bob Masse
                          Various projects and oddities:
                          Machine room:


                            Hum, 286, VGA and PCjr sound? Someone should make a demo about that!


                              This thread goes into some technical detail about how that card worked: