The passing of Creative Technology founder Sim Wong Hoo has resonated across Singapore’s tech scene.
Known as “the grandfather of Singapore tech,” Sim was a pioneer in the space and led the city-state to its first listing on the Nasdaq.Sound ideas
He started the journey in 1981 by setting up a computer store with Creative co-founder Ng Kai Wai. It wasn’t until 1988 when the company started taking off with Game Blaster, a sound card for PCs marketed for gaming.
In 1989, Creative followed that up with Sound Blaster, which quickly became an industry standard for consumer audio. At the time, companies such as Sierra and Electronic Arts were early adopters of Creative’s sound cards.
For sure, Sim has inspired a generation of Singapore’s entrepreneurs to make similar global marks. One of the most notable names is Razer, another Singapore-born company.
“Was incredibly shocked to hear about the passing of Sim, founder of Creative Labs this morning. I just met him two weeks ago, like all our meetings, we talked for hours about audio technology and products. Will miss him – the technology world and Singapore has lost a legend,” said Min-Liang Tan, co-founder and CEO of Razer.
Another early product from Creative was personal computer Cubic 99, which was released in 1984. After Sim’s passing, Victor Huang, a director at GovTech Singapore, made a post outlining Cubic 99’s innovations, which include a call-answering machine.
Mohan Belani, co-founder and CEO of e27, noted that Sim had endured many battles, including Creative’s one-on-one fight with Steve Jobs’ Apple.Wong Hoo was also known for coining the term No U-Turn Syndrome, or NUTS.
The iPhone maker launched the iPod after Creative rolled onto the scene with the Nomad, its own digital audio player. Citing court documents, Carbon Zero Venture Capital director Richard Tan said Creative actually holds the patent for the first-ever MP3 player.
“Apple eventually had to pay Creative US$100 million for patent infringement. With the massive cashflow from the iPod, Apple went on to produce iPhone, iPad, etc. and became the largest company in the world,” he added.
On top of everything, Sim was also known for coining the term No U-Turn Syndrome, or NUTS.
This refers to Singaporeans’ tendency to strictly follow rules and the authorities, which he said can stiffle people’s creativity. In the city-state, drivers can only make a u-turn if a u-turn sign is present.
It resonated so well with the masses that members of parliament started using the term in 2003.
when i started working, I saw plenty of examples of how this worked, especially in larger organizations. It taught me how to be flexible, how to work around red tape, and how to bend the rules when it made sense,” said Aloysius Low, a former senior editor for CNET and One Esports.
Low added that he still sees the relevance of NUTS, “if not more so than ever, with the challenges Singapore faces ahead.”