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Sweet Microsystems Mockingboard

1991 was proclaimed the "Year of the PC soundcard" by Sierra On-Line (Sierra), Ad-Lib and Creative duke it out to get the first one out the door, Creative 'wins' with the Sound Blaster Pro.

Well, as if this were the biggest thing to ever happen to a personal computer.

1981 was the year of the sound card for the Apple II. Sweet Micro Systems releases a sound card for the Apple II. It was available in two major revisions, the first, the "Sound" series, having sound and or speech options, or both, the later revision, officially named Mockingboard, offered as A, B, C, and D.

Sound I

This model consisted of one General Instrument AY-3-8910 PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) which could generate up to three audio channels.

Speech I

This model consisted of one Votrax SC-01 Speech Synthesis IC. Your computer can now speak. {s I want to plhay glowbalthermownewkleer wahr.}

Sound II

This model consisted of two General Instrument AY-3-8910 PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) IC's which could generate up to three audio channels each, for 6 total.

Sound/Speech I

...and this one was the combination of the first two, sound and speech in a single card. 3 Channels plus one voice.

Mockingboard A

The next revision was now called the Mockingboard, make your Apple sing, install a Mockingboard. The 'A' utilized two General Instruments AY-3-8913 chips for six audio channels, three left, three right so stereo effects could be created. There were also two open sockets for SSI-263 speech chips. The AY-3-8913 is a smaller package version of the AY-3-8910. This was accomplished by elimination of the two onboard parallel ports that the '8910 incorporated. They are still included on the internal stamping but simply not attached to external leads on the DIP. This resulted in a smaller sized IC. The SSI-263 is a variation of the SC-02 which was itself, the result of minor improvements to the original SC-01/Votrax design. The SSI-263 was manufactured by Silicon Systems, Inc., which became part of Texas Instruments in the mid 1990's. More information about the SC-01/A and derivatives can be found here;, two SSI-263's could be installed on the A model as an upgrade path.

Mockingboard B

This offering was simply a nicely boxed SSI-263 speech chip for Mockingboard A upgrades. You could install one or two of these on an A model. With two of them, your computer could argue with itself, male and female, you could have two voices at once.

Mockingboard C

The C model is the same as the A model but comes with one SSI-263 insatlled essentially a Mockingboard A with the upgrade pre-installed, however only one speech chip allowed allowed on the C model. If you wanted two, you had to take the 'A' route and install two 'B's.

Mockingboard D

The 'D' model was a long time coming, and several years later. It was made for the Apple IIc only as external box containing two speakers and an amplifier. It was equal to the Mockingboard C, having two AY-3-8913's and one SSI-263 chip. It was sometimes referred by myself as the 'Mockingbox' because of it's external configuration. The Mockingboard D was not a great seller, sadly, after all the effort put into it, and was an early example of too much, too fast, oh my, what now. Support from developers meant additional code and detection, and in even different data sent to the hardware itself, in some cases. An example was during the development of Willy Byte in the Digital Dimension, one of the few, if not only commercial releases to support the D model, when the character 'dies' in the game, the Mockingboard D sounded like it was saying "Oh hell" instead of "Oh well" as intended.

Mockingboard M

A later revision, sold as a bundle with Mindscape's Bank Street Music Writer, the Mockingboard M consisted of two AY-3-8913 chips and an open socket for one SSI-263 speech chip. Making it equal to a Mockingboard A with only one empty socket. By the time this was shipped it was pretty hard to find the SSI-263 through all the normal channels, it's almost easier today, to find one. New to this model, however, was an integrated headphone jack and a jumper to permit sound to be played through the Apple's built-in speaker.

Audio Maximizer

The Audio Maximizer was basically the same chassis and PCB that made up the Mockingboard D except that only the speakers and amplifier were completed and installed, making this an external speaker box instead of a complete sound generating product. This was probably done as a way to reduce inventory and recoup some investment on the parts created for the Mockingboard D.

Clones and derivatives


The Applied Engineering Phasor card was a combination Mockingboard A and AE Super Music Synthesizer which also had Echo+ support integrated. Essentially the Phasor was the all in one sound card for the Apple II. The AE Super Music Synthesizer, itself, was a clone of, but improved upon, ALF Music Synthesizer. The Phasor included four AY-8913 chips and one SSI-263, with an empty socket for a second one. With the addition of the second SSI-263, the Phasor had 12 channels of sound, four white noise generators and two speech voices. ..and still was available before the x86 platform had sound cards.

Pro MockingBoard

Peninsula Computer Company, Hong Kong, manufactured a typical far eastern clone sometimes referred to as a 'Pro Mocker Board', it had an extra drum channel and non-standard MIDI-out interface as well as an inbuilt 1 Watt stereo amplifier. The design was the combination of two products, the PCL Mocker Board and the Mocker Extension.

Mockingboard v1

The V1 is clone of the Mockingboard A from Reactive Computers,

Mockingboard enhanced titles

Adventure Construction Set
Berzap! - A clone of the classic, (current at the time) arcade game, Berzerk!
Broadsides (SSI)
Crimewave - Speech supported
Crypt of Medea - Speech supported
Cybernoid Music Disk
Guitar Master - Guitar tutoring.
Lady Tut, specific Mockingboard version
Mockingboard software (Sweet Micro Systems)
Mockingboard Developers Kit
Mockingboard Speech Developers Kit
Music Construction Set, different revisions do more as released.
Music Star - The OEM version did not support the Mockingboard, it was later patched by the underground to use the Mockingboard instead of the proprietary hardware that shipped with it.
Night Flight
One on One - Opening sequence music only.
Phasor software (Applied Engineering)
Rescue Raiders v1.3 - (SSI263 speech only)
Silent Service (Microprose)
Spy Strikes Back
Thunder Bombs
Ultima III, original release did not support the Mockingboard
Ultima IV
Ultima V - Supported two Mockingboards
Under Fire
Willy Byte
Zaxxon, specific Mockingboard version.

Other resources - Apple II Sound & Music Software

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