Twang!

The audio engine heard around the world

Today, with permission from Beatnik, Inc, I am releasing a code base, loved and hated by millions. It has probably been in a device in your pocket. We call it miniBAE, short for mini Beatnik Audio Engine.

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First, let me apologize

Set your wayback machine to the year 2000. Nokia, the king of mobile phones, and their default Ringtone. 

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The Ringtone heard around the world. My fault. Not that it's bad, but after a billion phones and countless trillion plays, maximum exposure has a new limit. The code being released today was responsible for enabling that audio meme to a wide audience.

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There is always a back story

As with any technology, there’s a story, and this one was an interesting one. The first version was created in 1991 by my business partner, Jim Nitchals, and myself. At that point it was called SoundMusicSys. Appearing in many successful video games for the Macintosh OS: Prince of Persia, Lemmings, Sim City to name a few. In 1997 we joined forces with Beatnik, Inc, founded by Thomas Dolby, and ended up in iconic consumer electronics from Apple, Sun’s Java, MagicCap, WebTV, BeOS, Nokia, Motorola, Danger, and others.

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We were both obsessed with creating something that would allow music to be played and be small in size. We ended up creating the first software wavetable synthesizer that read and played standard Midi files all done in software. Prior to our technology, the only solution was hardware: a dedicated sound card.

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It started with video games

But because of our background in video games, we understood low latency interactive audio and music, and the end result is this code. Before OpenAL, PortAudio, before many audio hardware abstraction layers, there was miniBAE.

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The last commercial product that this code was used in was the Danger, Inc, T-Mobile Sidekick 3 in 2005.

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Why we released the code

The motives in releasing the code into the open source community are many:

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GitHub

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