Creative Technology Drivers

Creative began as a computer repair shop, where Sim developed an add-on memory board for the Apple II computer. Later, they started creating customized PCs adapted in Chinese. A part of this design included enhanced audio capabilities, so that the device could produce speech and melodies. The success of this audio interface led to the development of a standalone sound card. In 1987, Creative released a 12-voice sound generator sound card for the IBM PC architecture, the Creative Music System(C/MS), featuring two Philips SAA 1099 chips. Sim personally went from Singapore to Silicon Valley and managed to get RadioShack's Tandy division to market the product. The card was, however, unsuccessful and lost to AdLib. This card had the Yamaha YM3812 chip (also known as OPL2) that was found on the AdLib card, as well as audio capabilities for playing and recording digital samples. Creative used aggressive marketing strategies, from calling the card a "stereo" component to calling the sound producing micro-controller a "DSP" (for "digital sound processor"), hoping to associate the product with a digital signal processor. The card soon became a de facto standard for sound cards in PCs for many years, mostly by the fact that it was the first to bundle what is now considered to be a part of a sound card system: digital audio, on-board music synthesizer, MIDI interface and a joystick port. Creative Technology's Sound Blaster sound card was among the first dedicated audio processing cards to be made widely available to the general consumer. Monaural Sound Blaster cards were introduced in 1989, and stereo cards followed in 1992 (Sound Blaster Pro). Wavetable MIDI was added with the 16-bit Sound Blaster AWE32 and AWE64 with 32 and 64 voices. In 1998, Sound Blaster Live! was the first PCI-based sound card. Over the years, the Sound Blaster line has been enhanced to provide 3D audio and home theater quality sound directly from a PC. Creative dominated the PC audio market and remains unchallenged by a major competitor since the late 1990s which saw a legal tussle between Creative and Aureal Semiconductor. A series of lawsuits was filed by Aureal in 1998 which alleges infringements over various technology patents such as PCI audio and 2D/3D positional sound APIs. Creative responded by counter suing with a series of lawsuits for false advertising and various other claims. The situation was resolved when Creative acquired Aureal's assets in September 2000 for USD $32 million dollars. In the mid 1990s, Creative's venture into the CD-ROM market proved to be unsuccessful. Creative was forced to write off nearly USD $100 million dollars in inventory when the market collapsed due to a flood of cheaper alternatives. On April 1999, Creative launched the NOMAD line of digital audio players that would later introduce the MuVo and ZEN series of portable media players. Creative remains a serious competitor in the portable audio player market, a market which they dominated until the entry of Apple Computer with the iPod. In November 2004, Creative Labs announced a $100 million marketing campaign to promote their digital audio products, including the ZEN range of MP3 players. Creative applied for U.S. Patent 6,928,433 on January 5, 2001 and was awarded the patent on August 9, 2005. The ZEN Patent was awarded to Creative for the invention of user interface for portable media players. This opened the way for potential legal action against Apple's iPod and the other competing players. Creative took legal actions against Apple in May 2006. In August, 2006, Creative and Apple entered into a broad settlement, with Apple paying Creative $100 million for the license to use the Zen patent. Creative will join the "Made for iPod" program which opens new opportunities for the company. On March 22, 2005, The Inquirer reported that Creative Labs had agreed to settle in a class action lawsuit that was filed because of the way its Audigy and Extigy soundcards were marketed. Creative has offered customers who purchased the cards up to a $62.50 reduction on the cost of their next purchase with Creative, while the lawyers involved in filing the dispute against Creative will receive payment of approximately $470,000. In 2007, Creative voluntarily delisted itself from NASDAQ, which had the symbol of CREAF. Its stocks are now solely on the Singapore Exchange (SGX-ST). In early 2008, Creative Labs' technical support center, located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, laid off several technical support staff, furthering ongoing concerns surrounding Creative's financial situation.