Every year in the month of June, someone by the unlikely name of [R.F. Burns] posts a question to the Linux Kernel Mailing List asking whether a Linux kernel module is possible that would blow the PC speaker. It’s fairly obviously a joke, which is why the UK-based anti-virus company Sophos have devoted a light-hearted blog post to it.
The post is an interesting diversion into early PC sounds, when the only hardware guaranteed to be present was a small speaker hooked up to a bit on an output port. The bit could be cycled for square wave beeps, or with a lot of clever manipulation could put out a low-bitrate PWM that delivered almost intelligible sounds including music and voice. They conclude that since the speaker would have been designed to be at the full amplitude of the 5-volt output bit all the time it should be impossible to blow it from software, and we’d be inclined to agree. There’s a remote possibility that some speakers might have a resonant frequency that could be found in software, but we’re not entirely convinced.
Your Hackaday scribe might have spent a while in a university computer lab back in the day trying and failing to write C code that would produce a usable PWM on an XT speaker, but those with long memories might recall the PC speaker driver for Windows 3.1. If you’re a fan of chiptune music there are even entire albums written for this most basic of instruments.
Header image: MKFI, Public domain.