Alternatively referred to as an audio output device, sound board, or audio card. A sound card is an expansion card or IC for producing sound on a computer that can be heard through speakers or headphones. Although the computer does not need a sound device to function, they are included on every machine in one form or another, either in an expansion slot or built into the motherboard (onboard).
Sound card connections
The picture is an example of a sound card audio ports or audio jacks on the back of your computer, associated colors, and the connector symbols.
- Digital Out (white or yellow; words: "Digital" or "Digital Out") - Used with surround sound or loudspeakers.
- Sound in or line in (blue; Arrow pointing into waves) - Connection for external audio sources, (e.g., tape recorder, record player, or CD player.)
- Microphone or Mic (pink) - The connection for a microphone or headphones.
- Sound out or line out (green; Arrow pointing out of waves) - The primary sound connection for your speakers or headphones. This sound card also has a second (black) and third (orange) sound out connector.
- FireWire (not pictured) - Used with some high-quality sound cards for digital video cameras and other devices.
- MIDI or joystick (15 pin yellow connector) - Used with earlier sound cards to connect MIDI keyboard or joystick.
Tip: Usually the cables connecting to the devices are also color-coded and will match or be close to the colors the cables connect into. For example, the end of the speakers cable may have a green line or be completely green.
Uses of a computer sound card
Below are all of the different areas of a computer a sound card can be used.
- Audio CDs and listening to music.
- Watch movies.
- Audio and video conferencing.
- Creating and playing MIDI.
- Educational software.
- Business presentations.
- Record dictations.
- Voice recognition.
History of the sound card
The first sound card is considered to be the Gooch Synthetic Woodwind, used by PLATO terminals. It was invented by Sherwin Gooch in 1972, and was a synthesizer capable of 4-voice music synthesis.
The Apple II computer was capable of using plug-in sound cards. The Apple Music Synthesizer was the first plug-in sound card used by the Apple II, developed by ALF Products Inc. in 1978.
Sound card related questions and answers
- Missing or lost sound in Windows.
- Computer sound card manufacturers.
- Computer sound card help and support.