Some background I dug up quickly:
Snark Barker creator's blog: http://tubetime.us/index.php/2019/01/19/sound-blaster-1-0-pr...
This might not be your scene at all, but someone made drawings and read from Gilles Deleuze's treatise on "stratoanalysis". It's long winded and completely unlike that paper but it generalizes the idea, or at least I think it does.
The NSA, Google, and many other who have reached a point here single buildings are not enough computing power.
If anything the number of orgs with building sized computers is probably similar. Which feels strange but it’s more about budgets than anything else.
He said those nights were the best experiences of his time at University (aside from meeting my mom).
Are you referring to this part of the parent comment? "Old building sized computers often supported multiple organizations via time sharing etc."
I worked at Tymshare in the early 1970s, and I can assure you that we supported many simultaneous users and organizations who dialed into our Tymnet nodes with their Teletypes and other terminals to connect to our building sized computers. That was the whole point of the company, and the very thing it was named after.
Well, on the other hand, it's unfair to say it's an abuse of computing power, since if you do have the power, making autonomous devices does make a system much more elegant and manageable, and not even talking about the advantages of general processor over specialized chips.
Take another look, it also tells us something about early home computer designs - the actual CPUs were usually irrelevant, there were no technical difficulties on the CPUs themselves and you could easily put TWO CPUs in a hard drive. And unlike modern computers, it was not even the most expensive part and the choice was limited, a cheap "trainer" computer with only hexadecimal keyboard, and an expensive home computer with a color CRT often shared a single CPU. The vast majority of the cost and troubles was system design, or putting these parts into a usable computer, with your own solution of input, storage, interface, graphics, software, or a chassis. The standardized IBM PC hasn't came yet, and one needed to create a solution of every subsystem. Every computer was a unique design, often with custom-made ASIC chips for peripherals.
I'm not sure I entirely believe that explanation.
Back in 1982, the Commodore 1541  was basically another C=64 with no keyboard, and a built-in floppy disk. It was big and heavy and hot and not terribly reliable.
4 years earlier, the Apple's Disk II  was tiny, light, and had only 5 ICs  -- it was described as "a state machine made of a prom and a latch" . The computer's CPU drove it -- it's not like the 6502 would otherwise be running other threads or processes during I/O!
The problem was that the C64 never really sold to businesses. If you were buying Visicalc, you bought an Apple II.
So we don't have to necessarily constrain ourselves to Assembly and C on those tiny devices.
Naturally it depends on the use case.
> something like an ESP32 runs circles around the PCW1512, which we had on the school computer club
I think as long as people are having fun with them, the hardware already served a good purpose. Even if the LED blinking is implemented by running Linux.
But in my opinion, people who are interested in these popular embedded boards should also learn about the basis of electronics, or just be aware of its existence, and understand the things one could do without buying a premade "board", and that it's possible to blink an LED with a few transistors. Well, I think most will find out by themselves, it's just a matter of time and guidance.
Or as John Carmack has said, low-level programming is good for the programmer's soul, it's hard to imagine that programmers do have souls if they has never been exposed to low-level programming. Unfortunately, in the modern computing world, the chances are becoming fewer and fewer, most systems are far beyond a complete understanding for most people. I think I'll never completely understand the x86_64 instruction set (w/ SSE, SSE2, FMA, AVX), or the signal path of the PCI-E interface on my motherbard.
Recently, I think some popular microcontroller projects may be the solution for a bare-metal programming experience.
But we can also looking it from another perspective - the proliferation of mobile devices changed everything, nowadays, even using a general purpose computer is not an experience that many members of the new generation may have (there was a Hacker News article about it). Some don't understand a hierarchical filesystem of files and directories anymore, and others have problem typing on a physical keyboard. In this sense, to blink an LED on Raspberry Pi is already a big step forward, and it was exactly the motivation behind Raspberry Pi.
I like to think that it is possible we'll one day develop a CPU architecture that is both simple enough to reason about and also highly performant.
RISC-V is getting there, with open-hardware cores such as Rocket (in-order) and BOOM (out-of-order). Too bad that many and perhaps most of the peripheral components even on a general-purpose SiFive SoC are still closed hardware blocks. But people are working on opening these up as well.
I say the point is that you should try to do trivial things with complex control systems and vice versa. You’ll do it better and more efficiently the second time. And the third. And if you decide to scale it, you will quickly learn the cheapest way to blink 10,000 LEDs.
Needless to say the whole thing was replaced by single ~$20 chinese FX1N clone (which also neatly solved how to drive 24V industrial loads from RPi/Arduino/ESP...).
I disagree a bit with you (I do agree that if all the RPi ends up doing is flashing a LED, then that is a waste) You have to start somewhere and if it is flashing a LED with a Pi then cool. The path to ESP32 or ESP8266 is not far away and there is a lot, lot more to discover and play with and learn and frankly have fun with and maybe do something useful or change the world (or a tiny bit of it) with.
I had some of the best opportunities available to me in IT and electronics and electrics, schools, teachers etc etc etc. but I didn't have today's opportunities. If I was growing up today I think I would probably have started with a Pi and blinked some LEDs.
I checked that site and "medium quantities" is 5000 of them :) (for a total price of $493). Somewhere on the page it says minimum amount is 2500, but I tried and wasn't able to successfully add that to my cart (only 5000).
So I guess that's nice, but how are you going to put even 2500 of these chips to use? That's a LOT of soldering to do. Unless you have some kind of machine to do that for you? But even then what are you going to use 2500 of them for, if not for reselling?
I remember struggling to find the right settings to play monopoly and double dragon. And IIRC there was a version of MSWORKS for this too
i.e. you'd start connected like this: (drives were daisy chained)
"With its 12 MHz 68000 CPU, the LaserWriter was 50% more powerful than existing Macs, and with the 1.5 MB of memory necessary to download Postscript fonts and print a page at full 300 dpi resolution, it had three times as much memory as the top-end Mac."
I had some vague idea that the chips had some autonomy (ie, when playing digital sound, they knew enough to request/fetch more data via interrupts, DMA, etc) but I'd never spent the time to really learn what was going on there.
Some were even a bit unimaginable today: for example, we had Z-80 Softcard (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z-80_SoftCard), a Z80 expansion card made (by Microsoft!) for computers with 6502 CPUs (Apple ][) to run existing business applications written for CP/M, like WordStar. It can also be connected with a modem to utilize its additional processing power to run a BBS server. There were also cards that packed multiple CPUs to implement a poorman (home computer) version of parallel processing.
The simplicity of single-task operating systems and hardware architectures of that time allowed multiple independent computers to shift control of a physical computer back and forth. Today it's - pretty much - impossible, but nobody needs it either, you can just run everything simultaneously.
At some point while playing around with the program I discovered I could also load simple DSP effects onto the signal chain (EQ, pitch shifter, even echo delay I think). It took me a little while to realize that these DSP effects were in fact not running anywhere on my CPU, but instead were running on some kind of DSP chip on the soundcard itself!
The Emu10k2 is a surprisingly overweight audio DSP that was being included for... unfortunately, no good reason, as Creative Labs sold these to gamers, and games just didn't use it outside of what could be exported via DirectSound (pre-Windows 10 sound mixing, EAX extensions (which they, themselves, are often a source of constant game crashes and/or BSoDs)) or the non-adopted Creative variant of OpenAL.
This is what you ended up discovering. I, too, had one, but never really found a use for it, as the audio quality was pretty poor due to being just a generic DAC and a generic opamp on a generic PCI card. Better than onboard sound, but not as good as inexpensive external solutions.
Going up the model range Reply SB Vibra 16 clone http://ohlandl.ipv7.net/sound/reply.html had some external eproms too.
Say whatever is in your mind freely, our conversation will be kept in strict confidence. Memory contents will be wiped off after you leave.
So, tell me about your problems.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ad-Lib-Gold-1000-ISA-Sound-Card-/27... via https://twitter.com/lazygamereviews/status/70847562292704460...
Also, speaking of sound cards, here is another thread from a few months ago about old sound cards: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17779741
In that thread a user named rahimnathwani said:
> Did any of you, back in the 90s, build a parallel port DAC to use with Linux's PC Speaker driver?
And someone else, dharma1, replied:
> My friend's dad built one for him, for DOS/windows though. Must have been around -89 when we were 12.
> I think Scream Tracker had the schematic bundled with it as an ASCII drawing. We were taught how to solder in primary school, but I remember the schematics being way too advanced for us. Looking at it now it's just a simple resistor ladder tree
> I think it was roughly the same as Covox, someone had written a sound blaster emulator for it, and it worked pretty well on games, scream tracker/fast tracker and demoscene demos - for the price of a parallel port connector and a few resistors, pretty cool.
If that person (dharma1) sees this thread, I have a question for them: Could you take a picture of that schematic and post it?
The HARDWARE.DOC file contains designs for 2 different mono devices that use DAC chips, one mono device that uses an R-2R ladder, and the "Stereo-on-1" which produces stereo using only a single parallel port.
I built a Stereo-on-1 back in the day. I had to send away to England to get the required chips from Maplin. It didn't work properly when I assembled it because I didn't understand how the pins on the chips were numbered. They're numbered counterclockwise, starting from the pin with the dot but for some reason I had thought they ran down the left side and then ran down the right side. Years later I revisited this, figured out what I had done wrong, and fixed it. It still worked the last time I checked a couple of years ago. It produces quite decent sound.
iconv -f cp437 -t UTF-8 HARDWARE.DOC
(I'm suprised that this worked so well. Also the zip file is a zipbomb without a containing directory, MS-DOS style.)
That kind of DACs were compatible with Covox, which has a schematic on wikipedia:
I mostly remember it for the fact that a great many demoscene demos and even some games would only play sound (music) if you had a GUS, a Soundblaster wasn't enough.
I think it had something to do with it being easier to play MODs on a GUS, or something. I imagine this was because you could load sounds into its memory and trigger them? I'm really not sure, someone please clarify :)
Either way, make sure you get a good price for that GUS :) Or better, make sure it finds a home with a loving enthusiast :)
It seems almost entirely pointless: the SB 1.0 has a big place in history but that's due more to market share than technical excellence or uniqueness compared to, say, the C64's SID chip, or even a true contemporary like the Gravis Ultrasound.
And unless I'm mistaken vintage Sound Blaster boards are not exactly in short supply... though I'm not entirely sure about that; it's tough to search for them thanks to the countless scads of products bearing the "Sound Blaster" moniker.
And yet, this is cool. This is a complex piece of work, a very nice piece of engineering by the look of it!
Preservation of computing and gaming history is important, and ensuring we can make more physical copies of things if needed/desired is crucial when it comes to keeping that history alive.
Cultural value is as important as technical advancement, at least in the long run. I think you could agree with me.
A notable cliche is still VHS. In the 80s, it was a far-from-optimal video system, but recently it has became a symbol of the 80s. Another example is the proliferation of home computers in the 80s, while many were groundbreaking, we also had some that were closer to a market bubble than a technical accomplishment, and were known as "Trash 80s" but now it's still something different.
And thanks for your additional commentary on soundchips.
True but, EG, resurrecting the old 360KB 5.25-inch floppies tech used on the '80s era IBM PCs is probably not worth revisiting.
Sure, practicability is important as well. The primary reason that nobody is resurrecting 5.25-inch floppies, is simply due to its impracticability. I think many people in the retrocomputing community would like to make a retrocomputer with these crunching floppies, but the supply chain has already vanished, it's also extremely difficult (if not impossible) to make a 5.25-inch floppy drive independently, as it involves custom mechanical moving parts. It's better to use the time to, let's say, a homemade video game cartridge.
Many retrocomputing hobbyists make a liberal use of modern peripherals such as CF cards.
The tolerances are not that high and the physical specifications are available from ECMA; most of the mechanical parts would not be difficult for a machinist, it's the heads which are the most difficult. The intersection of machinists and retrocomputing hobbyists is probably not that large, and 5.25" drives are still not really rare enough to attempt remanufacturing.
You are mistaken about that, soundblaster ISA cards are going for hundreds of dollars on ebay these days, due to their rarity. A cheaper clone is certainly welcome
And baffling, honestly. I'd have thought there were scads of them anywhere you find old computer parts.
But I suppose it's also true that old PCs were discarded and trashed/recycled at very high rates, due to rapid obsolescence thanks to a couple decades of Moore's law and the fact that the were fairly ugly and finicky beasts in the first place... so I suppose it makes sense that even if Creative Labs sold a zillion of these back in the day, only a very small percentage survive.
(I tend to hold onto my electronic stuff for a long time, but even I was generally glad to ditch my outdated PC equipment ASAP back in those days.)
I love the name you chose, but this is definitely tied as my favourite purely due to it sounding like something from Hitchhikers Guide!
You could also buy a commercial version if you didn't want to solder 
The one linked in the parent is a PCI card, so this might not apply.
One of them is running openbsd and I think it might be fun to write a driver for it actually. I see OpenMSX also support covox.
I am reminded of the names of B-52's songs on Amiga motherboards. (I had an Intel server board that had the Marmaduke cartoon character screened on it, under the "Slot 2" retainer. Alas, I got rid of the machine and never photographed it.)
2. This is a Free implementation. 100% of the schematic, PCB and mechanical design is released under CC By-SA 4.0.
So, it's for retrocomputing hobbyists, history preservation, it's also pretty educational and can be used as a model to teach (or self-teach) electronic design to the new generation without the overwhelming complexity (not limited to this, it's a common aspect of retrocomputing in general).
I have an old computer where I might be able to use this for some of the games.
I have another with a GUS MAX but not all games supported that. Sound Bastard (as we GUS owners called it) was pretty universal!
You know, just the other day last week, I was thinking about how good it would be to have real hardware FM synthesis for those vintage sounds.