Personal And Project Audio Adventures
Talk of computers devaluing traditional audio technologies is cheap and commonplace. The current state of audio recording, processing and editing on computer platforms i.e. studio recording software could be termed wild ride with Mac. Since the mid-1980s, computer workstations have begun to be a part of the fabric of, first, professional studio audio, and then, what we used to happily call semipro studio audio, but today refer to as personal and project (P&P) studio audio.
Needless to say, the transition to digital audio required the use of computers to process the zeros and ones that replaced chicken scratches on analogue audio tape. Initially, these computers were built inside proprietary workstations that were incompatible with other similar products, and sometimes even with the similar product from the same manufacturer. The actual audio was recorded onto new technology tape running on digital audio transports also using computer chips, all of which evolved from various nations' space programs.
With the 1990s, there emerged the first permutations of complete recording software, from companies such as Digidesign, and the professional computer suitable for audio usage, from companies such as Macintosh and Silicon Graphics. The IBM-standard personal computer was saddled with an Windows operating system software (culminating in v3.1), that did not lend itself easily to audio evolutions. Even the arrival of early incarnations of Windows 95 did not gladden hearts in the audio world.
Partly as a consequence, the Apple Macintosh computer quickly became the king of the hill for audio-based computing. An excellent on-screen graphic interface, the ease of use with a highly evolved mouse device that enabled 'point and shoot' control of audio applications and the presence of NuBus slots in the rear for recording and editing related peripheral cards all played their part. Though relatively expensive at the time, the Mac was still a more economical platform than it's more sophisticated competitors. It also pioneered the SCSI (small computer systems interface) data transfer bus that allowed the simple and reliable daisy chaining of up to seven external devices - especially the, then, expensive hard drives to store the audio data. At that time, Macintosh accounted for more than 20% of the sales in the total computer marketplace.
This meant that by the mid-to-late 1990s, the Mac accounted for more than 85% of all audio usage. The current (1998) status of the Mac platform with slightly less than 3% of all computer usage and its implications for the future of successful professional audio applications on the Mac has become a question mark; although the installed base still accounts for more than 75% of all audio usage on personal computers.