The weight in gold of obsolescence

Gold price is currently 900 USD an ounce. It is one of the only safe investing bets for the current economy... However that's bad news for you and me.

Last Friday I took off early and indulged in some long overdue electronic junk treasure hunt. Visited two of my best spots in Montreal pcrecycle and 1800parts.

Whats funny in fact is that I was looking for a device I had myself thrown away 10 years ago. The original Sound Blaster 1.0. Who would have thought that I would now need an obscure chip from this board .. not talking about the YM3812 (OPL2) – but a SAA 1099 which would have been, I think very easy to add to chipsounds, especially when i could just compile a little C program in borland DOS compiler and make it scream from its ISA slot in my 486 for my now routine steps of noise pattern and bit mixing analysis.

Only two years ago I remember that place had a HUGE box of ISA audiocards, filled with valuable chiptune goodies on them (got about 15 boards with OPL3 chips on them, inducing the pretty rare Adlib Gold, and (even rarer) a Microsoft Windows SOUNDSYSTEM ... wait did you see that properly? Microsoft branded SOUND CARD!!!

But now all that is.... now nowhere to be found, “Went to Africa a long time ago!”.


The later shop owner gave me a odd look, and said -off the bat-, all that went to Germany a while ago (according to him the current biggest player in large-scale computer recycling) Why do we keep hearing about China all the time?... media fascination I guess.

I also Keep Wondering whether or not my obsession with “old junk” is (even remotely) an eco-statement, or if its just retarded geeky nostalgia. Whatever I buy will end up in recycling anyway.

So I have a look around, try to listen to all his stuff about bad customers and the provincial difference in police behavior in a merchant/client dispute.... I just kept obsessing about the damn cards.

Q"Are you SURE you don't have a dump with old ISA cards in them"
A"well each of them is worth 3$ in gold so you would need to give me more, like 5$ each"
Q"O...K... that's not really a problem"

Two stories higher (guy has LOADS of server/printer stuff)
found a container headed for recycling, which I spent 30 minutes digging through.
A bunch of them, mostly crappy Vibra 16 Sound Blasters, but nothing as old as an 8bit SB 1.0 card. However, here's what I scored:

Just couldn't resist its beauty. Also a Gravis GF1 chip is hard to come by, and may become handy in say chipsounds 5.0 ;)

But now with all the children suffering in this sad world, why do I imagine all those SID chips melting in Aqua Regia????

(anyone with a SB1.0 card that wants a free chipsounds license just send me a shout)
EDIT: I just won a rare CT1350A Stuffed with two SAA chips!


  1. I've thought about trying to find retro curiosities at electronics recyclers, but i haven't yet visited one to dump my huge pile of electronic waste in my garage (I'm pretty sure I've plucked off the useful chips from my dead C64 units, and everything else is PC and peripheral garbage). Hearing that "the good stuff" is probably long gone to meltdown is sad (beyond the sadness of being thrown away).

    I had a Sound Blaster 1.5, once. Sold it to a computer guy locally. Only thing i ever sold as a kid. i also remember buying the Game Blaster addon chips for the Sound Blaster Pro (??), but that's also long gone. I went from Sound Blaster to Sound Blaster up until the AWE32, and then got into prosumer audio equipment (and eventually pro).

    I still have my AWE32 with Wave Blaster 1 (the better version; it's not a bad team, but not much character, either). I probably shouldve gotten a RAM-expanded AWE64 Gold for the base card, but i had given up on Creative at that point. Apparently that was the last of the interesting Sound Blasters, especially with the physical modeling synthesis software curiosity that only ran on WinDOS 9x.

    Cool find with the GUS. I had a friend who bought a GUS because of its superior specs. Then we found out it was not natively supported by games (except Epic Pinball) and that the emulation modes sucked. However, it turned out to be king for demos and trackers. I think i might've acquired the GUS from him, but i can't seem to find it in my old sound card stash. I don't have anything good in that stash either. Lots of Vibra chipsets, OEM stuff, my AWE32, a few AWE value units, a PAS16 (?), and my Turtle Beach Pinnacle Multisound.

    That last one was basically the same concept as an AWE32 but with no FM chip, a Wave Blaster-style GM device made by Kurzweil (it didn't have VAST; I'm not sure what value the Kurzweil name had other than branding), and S/PDIF. It was a technically superior card for amateur musicians, but it didn't support SoundFonts on the sampler side, and its own patch editor software was not available until long after the product was discontinued (major consumer screwing there). It was useless for games, useless for sampler-type synthesis, but it let me start toying with multitrack audio.

    i wish i had an Adlib (preferably the Gold, which has support in a hybrid FM/sample tracker), but probably just for the sake of collecting stuff (so, ultimately no good reason, ha ha). I had started with Tandy 1000 TL/2, which i see is a chip you've covered in your work here (I'm happy about that), and while that was sold to fund a Tandy 2500 XL/2, i did buy a Tandy 1000 TL/3 on ebay when i was starting my aborted retro music studio. The disk drive has since failed on the 2500 and the power supply line to the drive died in the 1000. It's all just junk now, since i don't have a scrap of electronics skills. But your blog is fun to read nonetheless.

    1. Yeah we share the same passion I guess! Really need to revisit this blog. These days I'm more into making videos about weird corners of vintage digital tech that has not been covered by the "famous youtubers" Making one right now about recycled chips sold as new. Stay tuned.


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