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.
Creative Technology’s Sound Blaster sound card was among the first dedicated audio processing cards to be made widely available to the general consumer. 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. This continued until the 2000s when OEM PCs began to be built with sound boards integrated directly onto the motherboard, and the Sound Blaster found itself reduced to a niche product.
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 companys 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. Aureal won the case but went bankrupt as a result of legal costs, so its assets were acquired by Creative in September 2000 for US$ 32 million.
In the mid 1990s, Creative’s venture into the CD-ROM market proved to be unsuccessful. Creative was forced to write off nearly US$ 100 million in inventory when the market collapsed due to a flood of cheaper alternatives.
In 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.
In January 2009, Creative generated internet buzz with a mysterious website promising a “stem cell-like” processor which would give a 100-fold increase in supercomputing power over current technology, as well as advances in consumer 3D graphics. At CES 2009, it was revealed to be the ZMS-05 processor from ZiiLABS, a subsidiary formed from the combining of 3DLabs and Creative’s Personal Digital Entertainment division.
Main article: Sound Blaster
Creative’s Sound Blaster line is one of the dominant names in the PC audio market. In 1987, the Creative Music System was released as the first audio device from the company. In 1988, the company took the Creative Music System and marketed it at RadioShack as Game Blaster. The following year, 1989, the Sound Blaster 1.0 was released, helped by the perfect compatibility with then market leader Ad Lib, Inc.’s sound card. By 1992, the Sound Blaster had achieved dominance in the market and AdLib filed for bankruptcy. The current revision of the Sound Blaster is known as the Sound Blaster X-Fi. The X-Fi technology can be found in several other Creative devices.
In late March of 2008, Creative experienced an online public relations backlash in response to a post by the Vice President of Corporate Communications, Phil O’Shaughnessy. In a message posted to the Creative public discussion forums, O’Shaughnessy requested that a user named “Daniel_K” cease distributing modified versions of the drivers for Creative hardware. Daniel_K, a well-known member of the Creative community, modified official Sound Blaster drivers in order to allow compatibility on Windows Vista. O’Shaughnessy took particular issue with the fact that the modified drivers “run on other products for which they are not intended” as well as the fact that Daniel_K was soliciting donations from users in return for his time spent working on them. In addition, Creative requested that Daniel_K respect Creative’s “legal rights in this matter”.
ZEN and MuVo Branded Portable Media Devices
Main article: Creative ZEN
Main article: Creative MuVo
The Creative ZEN was released in 2007.
The Creative ZEN name is used in a range of handheld media devices by the company. They are the successor to the NOMAD line of players. The line has won several awards, including three CES Best of Show awards, in 2004 with the Creative ZEN Portable Media Center, 2005 with the ZEN MicroPhoto , and 2006 with the ZEN Vision:M. The company uses MuVo branding for its smaller, flash-based devices.
Vado Video Cameras
While already a vendor of webcams for PCs and laptops, in May 2008, Creative announced the unveiling of its Vado video camera. The Vado video camera is a handheld device designed with portability in mind. Its direct competitor is the Flip Mini. In December 2008, Creative announced a HD version of the Vado, the Vado HD. This camera was among the first portable high-definition cameras. The Vado HD received an 89 rating from PCWorld, 4/5 stars and an Editors Choice award from PC Magazine, and generally favorable reviews from users on Amazon.
Creative MediaSource comes included with certain Creative products, such as Sound Blaster, MuVo, and Creative Zen. The software is mainly used as a method to sync and transfer digital media. The latest version is always available as a free download from the official website, but installation requires a Creative product (such as a Sound Blaster or Creative Zen) to be connected. The software is usually bundled with audio and video converters, as well as ZENcast, a podcast organizer. Features from previous version are sometimes removed by upgrades, such as the recent removal of the mp3 codec.
Gaming sound systems
Prodikeys, a computer keyboard-musical keyboard combination
Optical mice and keyboards
Headphones, including a Fatal1ty branded one
E-dictionary (Chinese language)
CD and DVD players, drives, and controller cards
Creative Labs office in Milpitas, California
Environmental audio extensions
Divisions and brands
ZiiLABS, formerly 3dlabs
^ a b “CREATIVE ANNOUNCES Q4 FY09 US GAAP FINANCIAL RESULTS”. http://www.finanznachrichten.de/pdf/20090806_210544_C76_CC5F64A2B85DCAF94825760A0045329D.1.pdf.
^ Graham, Jefferson (2004-06-28). “Creative’s name describes CEO”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2004-06-28-sim_x.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
^ Timeline of Creative vs Aureal lawsuits
^ Seno N. Alexandra, “Creative’s Genius”, Asiaweek article, September 2000
^ The Register “Creative declares war on iPod”, 18 November 2004
^ Press Release, “Creative Awarded U.S. Patent On Its Invention Of User Interface For Portable Media Players”, 30 August 2005
^ Press Release, “Apple & Creative Announce Broad Settlement Ending Legal Disputes Between the Companies”
^ Burns, Simon (2005-03-22). “Creative Labs owes you $ 62”. The Inquirer. http://www.theinquirer.net/en/inquirer/news/2005/03/22/creative-labs-owes-you-62. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
^ Creative (2007-09-04). “Creative Technology Announces Completion of Its Voluntary Delisting from Nasdaq – Company’s Sole Exchange Listing Now On the SGX-ST”. Press release. http://creative.com/corporate/pressroom/releases/welcome.asp?pid=12796. Retrieved 2008-01-01.
^ Hruska, Joel (2008-03-31). “Creative irate after modder spruces up Vista X-Fi drivers”. Ars Technica. http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080331-creative-irate-after-modder-spruces-up-vista-x-fi-drivers.html. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
^ Walters, Chris (2008-03-31). “Creative Sparks Customer Revolt When It Tries To Silence Third-Party Programmer”. The Consumerist. http://consumerist.com/373901/creative-sparks-customer-revolt-when-it-tries-to-silence-third+party-programmer. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
Official Creative site
Nothing But Creative
Creative Open Source site
Yahoo! – Creative Technology Ltd. Company Profile
Inquirer Lawsuit article
Message to Daniel_K from Creative’s VP of Corporate Communications
Categories: Companies listed on the Singapore Exchange | Video cards | Science and technology in Singapore | Electronics companies | Electronics companies of Singapore | Companies established in 1981 | Creative Technology | Sound cards | Companies formerly listed on NASDAQ
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