Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card

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AdLib Music Synthesizer Card
AdLib - 1987.jpg
Developer: Ad Lib, Inc.
Released: 1987-??-??
Type: Sound Card
Slot: ISA 8-bit
Icon - AdLib.png
Platforms: Platform - DOS.pngPlatform - W16.png

The AdLib Music Synthesizer Card was created by Ad Lib, Inc. and released in 1987. The sound card produced FM synthesis music via the Yamaha YM3812 chip. The card uses an ISA 8-bit slot, features a volume dial on the panel, and a stereo plug for output. The original 1987 version of the board featured a 1/4" stereo plug, but the 1990 redesign replaced it with a 3.5 mm plug. The board came with software and drivers which required an IBM PC, XT, AT, or 100% compatible, 256K RAM, DOS 2.0 or higher, and CGA, EGA, of MGA graphics adapter. In the included software was a visual jukebox program that would play ROL files. Seventeen songs were included with the sound card (recorded here), and additional song disks could be purchased, as well as the AdLib Visual Composer, which would allow you to create your own songs.

The AdLib sound card initially had a slow uptake into the market because there wasn't much you could do with it, but on August 16, 1988, the game King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (DOS) became the first game to support the AdLib. Shortly thereafter, AdLib became the first de facto standard sound card for the PC market. This success would lead to competitors making clones of the sound card like the Rainbow Arts Soundboard and the Magical Sound Card.

By 1989, Creative Labs released their more advanced competing product, the Sound Blaster, which had 100% AdLib compatibility as well as several other features to entice potential buyers. This led to a drop in sales of AdLib boards. Ad Lib, Inc. tried to fight back with the AdLib Gold 1000 card in 1992, but the company was too slow with responding. Shortly after the AdLib Gold 1000 was released, Ad Lib, Inc. filed for bankruptcy.



Package Download
v1.63 Drivers Download - (info)
User Guide Download - (info)
Programming Guide Download - (info)

An official AdLib programmer's guide called the "AdLib Music Synthesizer Card Programmer's Manual" was released by AdLib which included source code and software examples for adding AdLib music and sounds to games. If anyone can find a copy of this document and disks, please let us know!

Picture Gallery


All of the functionality of the AdLib sound card is emulated by DOSBox. Further emulation is made possible by AdPlug, though it's not as accurate.

See Also