VOGONS


First post, by borichka

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Does anyone have any information about this Port Blaster from 1992 catalog?
https://archive.org/details/creative-labs-pro … ct-catalog-1992

Reply 1 of 9, by Pierre32

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Never went to market apparently: https://twitter.com/Foone/status/1215392114407723008

See comment from Dave Compton in the comments of this video: https://youtu.be/z3DU2mNBa6M

Wow - flashback city. Back in around '93 when I was working for Creative Labs, the Port Blaster (parallel port Sound Blaster) release was cancelled because it turned out not all laptop parallel ports provided power. Major embarrassment and R+D fail!

Reply 2 of 9, by cyclone3d

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

They should have just added a power port to it for systems that didn't provide power via the parallel port.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 3 of 9, by digger

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
cyclone3d wrote on 2020-07-21, 15:32:

They should have just added a power port to it for systems that didn't provide power via the parallel port.

My thoughts exactly. "The release was cancelled" would imply that the product was mostly developed and close to shipping already. A device like that coming out in 1992, with both FM synthesis and an 8-bit DAC, and under the Sound Blaster brand, would likely have resulted in extensive support in DOS games, which would have made it easier to play DOS games with full sound and music support on ISA-less PCs, such as older laptops, Microchannel-based IBM PS/2 systems and later post-ISA PCs. A shame that didn't happen.

Would it really have been so hard for Creative to throw in an AC adapter, with a short explanation in the manual that the adapter would only be necessary for some laptop models?

Reply 4 of 9, by Grzyb

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
digger wrote on 2020-07-21, 23:44:

A device like that coming out in 1992, with both FM synthesis and an 8-bit DAC, and under the Sound Blaster brand, would likely have resulted in extensive support in DOS games, which would have made it easier to play DOS games with full sound and music support on ISA-less PCs, such as older laptops, Microchannel-based IBM PS/2 systems and later post-ISA PCs.

Doubtful.
Non-DMA DAC is hard to support in games.
And it was very rare to use laptops for games.
There was a bunch of LPT sound cards (eg. Logitech AudioMan, Portable Sound Plus) - and they weren't successful.

Reply 5 of 9, by digistorm

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Why would it be "hard" to support, if even real time demos and a music tracker like Fast Tracker 2 support it (Covox that is) while dealing with (for the time) heavy calculations and Fast Tracker 2 also responding to real time inputs at the same time? It would hurt CPU performance, but you were already compromising by not using an ISA sound card when that was the way to go in those days.

Reply 6 of 9, by root42

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I wonder if the Port Blaster would have supported DMA transfer via ECP/EPP? Would have made PCM sound more viable. Otherwise it would have been the OPL2LPT in its earliest form. 😉

Also, what's the difference between the SB PRO Basic and the SB PRO?

3DF7BAAC-71A8-4623-9D7A-89452E1AEB1A.jpeg
Filename
3DF7BAAC-71A8-4623-9D7A-89452E1AEB1A.jpeg
File size
460.97 KiB
Views
271 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

EDIT: Oh, ok. It's just the MIDI kit. I was only looking at the specs...

YouTube and Bonus
80486DX@33 MHz, 16 MiB RAM, Tseng ET4000 1 MiB, SnarkBarker & GUSar Lite, PC MIDI Card+X2+SC55+MT32, OSSC

Reply 7 of 9, by Grzyb

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
root42 wrote on 2020-07-22, 09:34:

I wonder if the Port Blaster would have supported DMA transfer via ECP/EPP?

No, there wasn't ECP in 1992.

Come to think of it, an LPT sound card might have been feasible for games in 1992.
The main reason that few games supported Covox was that it was very hard for background music - not only no DMA, but also only one channel.
For SFX, it was much easier.

With a proper LPT sound card, there would be no problem with background music - normal FM synth, only at different I/O address.
And even for SFX, it was possible to compensate for the lack of DMA by using some buffer - see Disney Sound Source, its FIFO is only 16 Bytes, and that's enough for Wolfenstein 3D to support it.

Reply 8 of 9, by digger

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Grzyb wrote on 2020-07-22, 01:31:
Doubtful. Non-DMA DAC is hard to support in games. And it was very rare to use laptops for games. There was a bunch of LPT sound […]
Show full quote
digger wrote on 2020-07-21, 23:44:

A device like that coming out in 1992, with both FM synthesis and an 8-bit DAC, and under the Sound Blaster brand, would likely have resulted in extensive support in DOS games, which would have made it easier to play DOS games with full sound and music support on ISA-less PCs, such as older laptops, Microchannel-based IBM PS/2 systems and later post-ISA PCs.

Doubtful.
Non-DMA DAC is hard to support in games.
And it was very rare to use laptops for games.
There was a bunch of LPT sound cards (eg. Logitech AudioMan, Portable Sound Plus) - and they weren't successful.

You would definitely have seen support for it pop up in quite a few games, since many games (especially by the mid '90s) made use of APIs and third party driver packs, such as AIL, DIGPAK/MIDPAK, etc. And such driver packs would likely have added support for the Port Blaster, since it was a Creative Labs product.

Also, the addition of a FIFO buffer to non-DMA DACs, such as in the Disney Sound Source, made support for such devices much easier. That's probably also the reason why the DSS is by far the most supported parallel port audio device in games. Not nearly as widely as Sound Blaster cards were, but still quite a few games. Definitely many more than simpler devices such as the Covox Speech Thing.

For that reason, Creative may very well have designed the Port Blaster to have something like that as well. And otherwise, they could have included a driver that would have done the hard part and offered some hardware abstraction, simplifying support for it in games.

I'm still hoping someone will develop a device that combines something like an OPL3LPT with Disney Sound Source compatibility, and allows both an FM synth and a DAC to be used on a single parallel port simultaneously, with decent DOS game support, either through emulation or through patching. Even better if such a solution would be DSS compatible out of the box. 🙂

Reply 9 of 9, by digger

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
Grzyb wrote on 2020-07-22, 10:04:

No, there wasn't ECP in 1992.

Even if there were, having it as a requirement for the Port Blaster to work would have made it a non-starter anyway. They were clearly going for a universal solution that would work in any PC parallel port.

Just the fact that the Port Blaster would have needed an external power adapter for some laptops was already enough reason for Creative Labs not to release the product.