It’s hard to overstate Creative’s dominance of PC sound in the 1990s, as the company’s Sound Blaster was the de facto standard for many, many years. Much like how IBM so dominated the market that for years PCs were sold as “IBM Compatibles,” any sound card that wasn’t made by Creative had to state “Sound Blaster compatibility” if they wanted to sell.
Creative’s Sound Blaster line was the de-facto standard for sound in PCs throughout the 1990s. Back before sound was commonly included on motherboards, you had to buy a sound card that would go in your computer’s ISA (or later PCI) slot if you wanted any sound beyond basic beeps. There were other sound cards out there but if you wanted guaranteed compatibility with your games then you wanted a Sound Blaster.
This particular ad is for the Sound Blaster AWE32 PnP which was the latest and greatest when this ad came out in 1996. The PnP stood for ‘Plug and Play’ which theoretically meant that you could install it without any jumper configuration and it would work in Windows 95. Virtually all games were still DOS based at this point so setting a non-conflicting jumper configuration and modifying your system files appropriately would have still been necessary.
The AWE32 refers to the fact that it uses wave table synthesis, uses real sampled sounds and can play 32 independent sounds at once. It even had expandable memory so that you could store your own samples.
This card used an ISA slot which is what was most common in the pre Pentium days (before PCI). In 1996, new computers included PCI slots but also included ISA slots. The minimum system requirements for using this card was only a 386 so there would have been no incentive to make a PCI version at this point. Older computers couldn’t use a PCI card and newer ones could use ISA.