History of the Sound Card: How it Came About The very first sound card every manufactured was a Sound Blaster card. Far West was the manufacturer of the first Sound Blaster sound card. Let's step back a little in time to take a look back at when sound cards haven't even yet existed." Computers were never designed to handle sound." Before sound cards were invented, the only sounds you would hear from a computer would be the beeps that would tell you if something was wrong with the computer. That's all! No sounds would accompany any games, you couldn't play music at all, nothing! Computer programmers wanted to use the beeps for games they created, and so they would program the beeps into their games.

However, it would be "awful music as an accompaniment to games like Space Invaders." Far West came up with the solution, thus the invention of the first Sound Blaster sound card. It still wasn't good quality music, but it was a big step up from just the beeps. "It could record real audio and play it back, something of a quantum leap. It also had a MIDI interface, still common on sound cards today, which could control synthesizers, samplers and other electronic music equipment." The first sound card was of 8 bit 11 k Hz audio quality, similar to an AM radio. There are two parts to the "complicated piece of electronics", the sound card. ADC and DAC were they.

ADC is the analog-to-digital converter and DAC being the opposite (digital-to-analog converter). ADC took an analog signal from a device and converts it to digital signals for the computer to use, as DAC did the exact opposite, taking a digital signal and converting it to analog. However, in the future, there will be no use of ADC and DAC since "both speakers and microphones will be able to directly record and playback digital signals directly." An example of ADC would be a sound through the microphone being recorded into the computer. A CD player is an example of a device that uses DAC. Digital audio has its advantages.

One would be that "no matter how many times it is copied it remains identical." It does not degrade analogue sources. An example of an analogue source is vinyl. A leap up to 16 bit 44. 1 k Hz was a major development. This is the quality of a CD. This became a problem for the ISA bus.

It wouldn't be able to play back and record at the same time. This became a problem, such as making phone calls on the internet. You wouldn't be able to talk and hear at the same time. This evolved into the PCI bus, which solved this problem. Virtually all sound cards are PCI compatible. "Currently we are seeing 24 bit 96 k Hz sound cards emerging, which promise even better sound quality than CDs." You can even connect your computer speakers up to listen to DVDs on surround sound settings.

You can even now set up external sound cards for better control. With the emergence of USB and Firewire buses, the possibilities are endless. You can simply hook up a really good external sound card to your USB port, without having to open up your computer, as you would have to if you got a PCI bus sound card. However, "sound cards attached to the USB bus cannot playback as many tracks simultaneously as a PCI sound card." USB and Firewire bus sound cards are generally more expensive than a PCI bus. Nowadays, the leading companies in the sound card hardware industries include Creative Labs, Plextor, Antec, and ATI RADEON. Sound cards have come a long way, and will continue to get greater and greater in power and quality..