Applied Engineering's Lost Apple II Sound Board
pic and ad text are from
an AE ad in a 1984 Nibble issue
scans provided by Al Crout
SUPER MUSIC SYNTHESIZER - END MOCKINGBOREDOM
A few weeks ago sfbong asked about an Apple
II sound card which seemed to offer
three more tone voices than the standard six available from Mockingboards. (The mystery
board had three AY-8910 Programmable Sound Generator IC's.) Specualtion about
the board on Csa2 led to a tentative conclusion that it may be a user-modified Mockingboard
or some low-production model or an unknown clone. It also led to an offer from Al Crout
of a 1984 ad scan for a many-voiced sound board from Applied Engineering!
At first perusal, the ad's claims are fairly
impressive-- twice as many tone voices and
white noise generators as Mockingboard! If you never heard about the "Super Music
Synthesizer" and wonder why, the answer is in the picture of the board.
Back in 1979-1980, there was at least one Apple
II music card-- the "Jukebox"
card from American Micro Products-- which offered similar specifications, except it had
only one channel with three voices. Jukebox came with the "KIS" music editor on diskette
and, like the AE board, its IC's were small, mainly14 and 16-pin, types.
The sound chip used on the Jukebox is TI's
76489, a 16-pin IC which delivers 3 tone
voices plus white noise. AE's picture shows 4 16-pin chips in the center of the card:
4 x (3 tone + 1 white noise) = 16 voices (if you stretch the definition of "voice" a bit)
I'm pretty sure the Super Music Synthesizer board is a souped up version
AMP Jukebox and that it uses either TI's 76489 or its 76494.
Why was AE's board "Lost"? The price did not
help; SMS was $60 more than a
stereo Mockingboard and only $20 less than the stereo Mockingboard + speech. And, by
1984, Mockingboard was the closest thing to being the standard Apple II sound board,
including support in Ultima III and Music Construction Set.
Still, you do get 12 tone voices vs. the Mockingboard's
6. The catch here is that
TI's chips offer a 10-bit frequency divide register vs. the 12 bits available in the
AY-8910 Programmable Sound Generator IC's used on Mockingboard. You get
much better note accuracy from the Mockingboards.
None of which means that you can't do a lot
with AE's Super Music Synthesizer
card plugged into your Apple II. And, being "lost" and all, I'll bet they're very rare.
In fact, it would be kind of neat to have one!