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A question about history: first DSP-less DAW?
Old 15th August 2019
  #1
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Question A question about history: first DSP-less DAW?

Hello,

In the beginning of the nineties, most DAW were coupled to specific, dedicated hardware and used a computer only for the user interface. Around 2000, the switch had been made to allow processing of the sound on the computer itself.

I would like to know what was the first DAW which could be used with a standard computer (PC/Mac) and a basic soundcard?

I suspect it's Cubase but I need a confirmation. Any more specific information (version, OS, date of introduction) would be welcome.

Thank you in advance.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Cubase was still a pure midi-sequencing program like Passport, Hybrid Arts etc. Steinberg got into the ability to record audio just around the same time Greg hendershot moved Cakewalk that direction.

Which...was somewhat late in the game....

Because.....

In 1996, Bob lentini was essentially first in line with the workable daw Saw-Plus.

Saw-Plus was strictly PC...it would run on 486s (sorta), but really well on Pentium 1 computers...specifically "suggested" to pair up with DAL sound cards.

Saw Plus was just about able to run off pure Dos6. Not really....but it did pretty much completely bypass your os (win3.1..win95) , making it a very nice 16bit multitrack daw for a couple of years.

Bob virtually had no PC competition for a while. He had Namm booths....he was interesting to listen to.... for the life of me, I dunno how...with his head start...he didn't end up ruling the daw universe.

I bought the first few saw versions, lots of DAL cards (at a grand each back then), and had the systems integrated with my tape machines.

The Mac universe of 1996 of course turned up their noses at a pc being able to do audio.

But hey...Bob was making it happen for sure.

I remember Bob doing an evolution move of integrating Passport midi sequencing with SAW code.....keep in mind that all the other companies (Steinberg etc) were midi-only.

So in fact in 1997 or whatever, Bob saw that integrating full midi and audio capability into one product was the way of the future.

Interestingly at the time...one of the only other ways to integrate pure audio with pure midi..in one result...was......MidiMan....as in the BOX called MidiMan.......which was how the box eventually became the name of the company (the box was dumped....oh...anyone remember smpteman?)...and the company then became M-audio......

Anyway....so the SAW/Passport integration didn't seem to work too well in my experience...

And then ten minutes later....Cakewalk, cubase, hybrid arts and the rest of the PC gang started to figure out how to marry their mature midi capabilities with rudimentary audio recording....roughly with the Advent of win98 and some enterprising sound card guys basing off pentium2 setups.

I think Bob was then sort of left in the dust.

Which like I say....don't know why it all evolved like that.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 
amundsen's Avatar
 

Thank you @ thenoodle , very interesting information.

Actually Bob Lentini has made a webpage where he shares his own history as sound engineer and software developer. And there's also a link to the RML Labs online store where one can buy the latest version of SAW.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Guru
 
UnderTow's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post
Cubase was still a pure midi-sequencing program like Passport, Hybrid Arts etc. Steinberg got into the ability to record audio just around the same time Greg hendershot moved Cakewalk that direction.

Which...was somewhat late in the game....

Because.....

In 1996, Bob lentini was essentially first in line with the workable daw Saw-Plus.

Saw-Plus was strictly PC...it would run on 486s (sorta), but really well on Pentium 1 computers...specifically "suggested" to pair up with DAL sound cards.

Saw Plus was just about able to run off pure Dos6. Not really....but it did pretty much completely bypass your os (win3.1..win95) , making it a very nice 16bit multitrack daw for a couple of years.

Bob virtually had no PC competition for a while. He had Namm booths....he was interesting to listen to.... for the life of me, I dunno how...with his head start...he didn't end up ruling the daw universe.

I bought the first few saw versions, lots of DAL cards (at a grand each back then), and had the systems integrated with my tape machines.

The Mac universe of 1996 of course turned up their noses at a pc being able to do audio.

But hey...Bob was making it happen for sure.

I remember Bob doing an evolution move of integrating Passport midi sequencing with SAW code.....keep in mind that all the other companies (Steinberg etc) were midi-only.

So in fact in 1997 or whatever, Bob saw that integrating full midi and audio capability into one product was the way of the future.

Interestingly at the time...one of the only other ways to integrate pure audio with pure midi..in one result...was......MidiMan....as in the BOX called MidiMan.......which was how the box eventually became the name of the company (the box was dumped....oh...anyone remember smpteman?)...and the company then became M-audio......

Anyway....so the SAW/Passport integration didn't seem to work too well in my experience...

And then ten minutes later....Cakewalk, cubase, hybrid arts and the rest of the PC gang started to figure out how to marry their mature midi capabilities with rudimentary audio recording....roughly with the Advent of win98 and some enterprising sound card guys basing off pentium2 setups.

I think Bob was then sort of left in the dust.

Which like I say....don't know why it all evolved like that.
The above isn't right.

By 1991 Cubase had MIDI and audio using Digidesign's TDM system. Cubase on the Atari Falcon had audio (and MIDI of course) in 1993. By 1996 Cubase could do audio natively on a PC or Mac and could also use the Digidesign TDM engine or the Yamaha CBX system.

Alistair
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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sam c's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenoodle View Post

Bob virtually had no PC competition for a while. He had Namm booths....he was interesting to listen to.... for the life of me, I dunno how...with his head start...he didn't end up ruling the daw universe.
In my opinion Bob didn't rule the DAW market because of his pricing. SAW was my first foray into computer recording. I was a Roland guy before that, 880, 1680 then the 2480. Bob's product was fantastic, almost flawless in it's performance. I paid $2500 for SAW and when I learned that there was competition out there for less, possibly as efficient I started demoing stuff. Reaper came along at $50, Podium at $60 and others. Bob's was written in Assembly Language so I know it was more work to get coded but he just didn't make the adjustment in time. And, his GUI was so weird looking that it actually might have hurt him.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam c View Post
Bob's was written in Assembly Language so I know it was more work to get coded but he just didn't make the adjustment in time.
According to his own words "assembler hooks". To me that reads as inline assembler. Basically exactly what everyone used to do.

Alistair
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
amundsen's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
The above isn't right.

By 1991 Cubase had MIDI and audio using Digidesign's TDM system.

Alistair
Good to know, however the question was about software without additional DSP boards.

I didn't know about the Atari Falcon on that matter. But how many copies have been sold? This computer has not been a commercial success.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Cool Edit Pro 1995.
Multi-track, no dsp
Destructive Editing and I believe a max of 16 tracks. Worked with Sound blaster and clones in Windows 95
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderTow View Post
According to his own words "assembler hooks". To me that reads as inline assembler. Basically exactly what everyone used to do.

Alistair
"I then ported the SAC and SAW interfaces into Windows, still managing to leave the core engine design in Assembly Language to maintain my high performance standards.

"I successfully accessed the CardD hardware registers, the PCs DMA hardware registers, and hardware interrupts through low level Assembly Language hooks. This effectively bypassed Windows at the lowest level, taking charge of the machine, and giving me direct control of the hardware

"This technique was not generally recognized at the time as a possibility within the Windows environment."
Old 3 weeks ago
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcwave View Post
"I then ported the SAC and SAW interfaces into Windows, still managing to leave the core engine design in Assembly Language to maintain my high performance standards.

"I successfully accessed the CardD hardware registers, the PCs DMA hardware registers, and hardware interrupts through low level Assembly Language hooks. This effectively bypassed Windows at the lowest level, taking charge of the machine, and giving me direct control of the hardware

"This technique was not generally recognized at the time as a possibility within the Windows environment."
I remember Bob often talking about Assembly and others commenting on it being a more difficult language. SAW is an interesting program.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #11
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i bought a fairlight cmi way back when it became available and was always more intersted in its sound shaping capability than into its tracking options so possibly pretty much the opposite of what the op is looking for...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #12
SAW wasn't always so expensive, but Bob kept raising the price as he "evolved" the program. IMO, he often moved in directions contrary to market trends. He was slow off the mark with 24 bit versions and flatly refused to implement dither. Although these issues forced me to look for an alternative, Bob had really spoiled me with SAW's object-oriented approach to non-destructive editing. I refused to consider destructive editors, so I jumped to Samplitude (originally called Red Roaster). It had problems of its own in those days, but it did sound better. Samplitude 2496 was the first "grown up" version that Titus and Tilman (SEK'D founders) produced, and it was pretty good. By then Bob had raised his price to $2500, and SAW had turned into a niche player appreciated mostly be people doing audio production for theater.

David L. Rick
Seventh String Recording
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