To me, sound card rhymes with PC. I remember listening to the AdLib Music Synthesizer Card in 1987. It was magical! After Ad Lib introduced the first PC sound card, it was quickly overtaken by the iconic Sound Blaster product line. Sure, there were many other manufacturers – Gravis, Roland, Turtle Beach, etc. –, but Creative Labs is the one company that gave a voice to the personal computer. By the way, have you ever heard of the Windows Sound System? Microsoft attempted to bring multimedia capabilities to Windows 3.1 in 1992 with the WSS. I believe I still have one of these systems in its original package sleeping somewhere in the garage.
Before the PC, other computers had more or less good audio capabilities. Many of them were way ahead of the curve, others less. The Apple 2 was nowhere. Indeed, its single and small speaker couldn’t compete, and the sound you really remember was the power on beep. But at the end of the day, it was a good choice. As always, gaps create opportunities, and several add-on sound cards were proposed over the years: Mockingboard by Sweet Micro Systems, the Music Cards (MC) by ALF, the Phasor by Applied Engineering, etc. Sure, you needed deep pockets, but “quand on aime, on ne compte pas”.
If you want to pimp it up a notch, you can install two of these boards, and double the audio capabilities of your Apple 2. Ultima V is known to utilize the supernumerary board. One Mockingboard gives six sound voices in stereo. It uses two MOS 6522 Versatile Interface Adapter (VIA) and two General Instrument AY-3-8913 chips. If you are lucky and can find two Silicon Systems SSI 263A chips, you will be able to enjoy speech synthesis with capable games and applications. These chips can be labeled as SC-02, Arctic-02, SSI-263P, SSI-263AP, or 78A263A-P.
Note: Steve Wozniak photos are © by Roger Ressmeyer/Corbi