Audio Device Drivers
With as much as we use our computers for audio needs (i.e. playing CD’s, loading Mp3’s or iPod’s, or playing games) it is hard to imagine not being able to. Earlier PC’s did not come with audio devices, other than the basic speaker, used for POST (Power On Self Test) and application alerts. These speakers were connected by two leads to the motherboard.
Today nearly every PC has some type of audio device built in the motherboard or by using a sound card that is plugged into the PCI bus. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that add in audio cards became available. These 8 bit ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) devices like the original Sound Blaster are nothing like what is available today.
Turtle Beach developed a high grade audio card at this time also. These cards were meant for computer using musicians, and were more expensive than the Sound Card. Sound Blaster cards used the PC CPU for audio processing. This limited what they could do and also put a strain on the PC. It wasn’t long before updates were done that used onboard audio processing CPU’S that then eliminated the load from the CPU. These new cards were capable of higher bit rates such as 32, 64, and 128.
After the millennium sound cards change once again. The had surround sound capabilities along with other functions. The Widows program allowed several applications to send output to the audio device at the same time. This was something that could not be done with DOS and Windows 3.1.
Today motherboards are built with 5 or 7 channel audio drivers. However, users have the option to take these out via. BIOS setting and upgrade to a high end sound device. The Plug-and Play device also automatically detects newly installed audio cards, and will work without manually installing.
There are many of us that would be lost with out the audio use of our computers. They have become our Home Entertainment Centers.