Industry Standard Architecture
16-bit sound card

The voice in your computer that lets you know when you've received a new e-mail is made possible by the sound card. Before the arrival of sound cards, personal computers (PCs) were limited to beeps from a tiny speaker on the motherboard. In the late 1980s, sound cards ushered in the multimedia PC and took computer games to a whole different level.

In 1989, Creative Labs introduced the Creative Labs SoundBlaster card. Since then, many other companies have introduced sound cards, and Creative has continued to improve the SoundBlaster line.

In this edition of How Stuff Works, you'll learn how a sound card works and explore the many uses for this technology. You will also learn what FM and wavetable synthesis mean.