Sim Wong Hoo, who founded Sound Blaster producer Creative Technology in 1981 and has remained at its head ever since, has passed away. A statement (opens in new tab) released by the company said Sim “passed away peacefully” on January 4.
Creative Technology, known in North America as Creative Labs, was a pioneer in the early days of PC gaming thanks to its long-running line of sound cards. After initially launching as the Creative Music System in 1987, the famed Sound Blaster line debuted in 1989 and quickly took over the market: Ad Lib, which was the effective standard for PC gaming audio before the advent of Sound Blaster cards, lost ground so quickly that it was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1992.
The Sound Blaster series evolved through several generations after the release of that first card. My second sound card (ironically replacing an Ad Lib) was a Sound Blaster Pro, which came out in 1991 and propelled the company’s worldwide revenues to over $1 billion by the mid-1990s.
The advent of built-in audio later took a big bite out of consumer-level sound card sales, and Creative’s attempts to move to other technologies, such as CD-ROM drives and video accelerators, failed to catch on. But the company achieved continued success by refocusing its efforts on specialty audio, including high-performance sound hardware Sound Blaster AE-9 really impressed us when it launched in 2019 – and speakers.
An audio legacy
Creative is a company that has become synonymous with computer audio over the years, to the extent that I doubt many of us have ever used a pair of Creative speakers or ever plugged a sound card from the company into their device. point. I had a set of the go-to Inspire T10 speakers when I went to college and they still sell that exact model to this day. I also have a Sound Blaster sound card in my PC and as a child/teen I even had a Creative Zen mp3 player. I guess I can thank Mr. Sim for that long lasting audio legacy.
– Jacob Ridley, senior hardware editor
Creative is also notable for agreeing – and winning – with Apple in a patent dispute over Apple’s hot new invention, the iPod. Creative had its own line of Zen audio players at the time, and these had an interface for scrolling through your music library that Apple liked quite a bit. In the end, it’s the two companies settled for a payment of $100 million out of his own pocket, and Mr. Sim’s party walked away much richer. Granted, Apple would have the last laugh given the subsequent success with the iPod, but Creative continued to build many of the PC products we use to this day, even though the Zen music player had a limited shelf life.
“I have known and worked with Mr. Sim for over 30 years,” interim CEO Song Siow Hui said in a statement. “This is a sad and sudden development and we feel a great loss.”
A message (opens in new tab) the Creative website states that Sim was “a visionary, inventor and entrepreneur who gave the PC a voice. He will be greatly missed.”
A cause of death was not released by the company. Sim lived to be 67 years old.