Singaporean inventor and tech pioneer Sim Wong Hoo passed away on January 4th at the age of 67. Sim may not be a household name these days, but he founded Creative Technology (or Creative Labs in the US), the company behind the Sound Blaster brand of sound cards, back in 1981. Sound Blasters were some of the first sound cards available to consumers, and there was a time when you had to make sure your system worked with them if you wanted to listen to music and play games.
Sim established his business in the US and started selling Sound Blasters a few years later, after which Creative became the first Singaporean company to be listed on the Nasdaq exchange. The integration of sound boards into the motherboard ended Sound Blaster's popularity, but Bloomberg says the cards provided audio for more than 400 million PCs.
Under his leadership, Creative also launched a range of MP3 players, and Sim once tried to take on Apple by spending $100 million on advertising and marketing in its bid to dethrone the iPod. In 2006, Creative sued Apple for violating its patent for portable media system menus. The companies filed more lawsuits against each other after that before Apple settled with Creative and paid the company $100 million for the technology outlined in its patent.
Creative confirmed Sim's passing on its website, calling him "a visionary, inventor, and entrepreneur who gave the PC a voice." In a press release published by the company, interim CEO Song Siow Hui said in a statement:
"I have known and worked with Mr. Sim for over 30 years. This is a sad and sudden development and we feel a great loss especially since Mr. Sim and I recently had extensive discussions on the future direction of the Company. During those discussions, Mr. Sim was full of fresh vision. Even on the night before, he had a long discussion with the Engineering team and was scheduled to meet with the Online Sales team the next day. The best thing to do now is to ensure the continued smooth running of the Company, and also to execute and realise the vision and strategy that Mr. Sim had for the Company."