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Creative Technologies founder and Sound Blaster sound card creator Sim Won Hu dies.
Last week, on January 4, 2023, the founder and CEO of Creative Technologies, as well as the creator of Sound Blaster Sim sound cards Wong Hoo, passed away. He was 67 years old.
Young readers may not know that there were times when having a computer did not guarantee the ability to listen to music recordings or some other audio files. To connect speakers or headphones, a sound card was required. Many sound cards have been released over the decades from various manufacturers, but none have been as successful as Creative Labs' Sound Blaster. In 2019, the Sound Blaster family of sound cards turned 30 years old and at that time their total sales worldwide exceeded 400 million units.
Sim Won Hu was born in 1955 in Malaya. Subsequently, he moved to Singapore, where he graduated from the Faculty of Electronic Engineering at the Ngi Anh Polytechnic Institute. In 1981, Hu and a classmate opened a workshop called Creative, where they serviced and repaired computers. In parallel with this, Hu led his own developments, one of the results of which was an additional memory module for the then popular Apple II personal computers. In 1986, Hu created the prototype of today's sound cards, a single-chip sound system that could process complex sound effects and play music in stereo.
In 1992, Creative introduced the Sound Blaster 16 sound card, which became the benchmark for PC sound systems for years to come. Later in the era of Windows 95 and DirectX, the phrase “Sound Blaster compatible” became one of the most important for gamers, as the ability to play with sound took the gaming experience to a new level. Other than that, Creative had a lot of success in the MP3 player market with their Nomad and Zen devices.
Today, Creative continues to release sound cards, including the semi-professional Sound Blaster Audigy and Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatality designed for modern computers. The company has many patents in its arsenal, including rights to the user interface of the audio player. Creative sued Apple over the iPod interface over this patent, resulting in the American company being forced to pay $100 million to settle the dispute.
In 1992, Creative became the first company from Singapore to list its shares on the Nasdaq. In 2002, at the age of 45, Hu became the youngest Singaporean billionaire. His achievements in his homeland were twice awarded the "Businessman of the Year" award.