My First Ever Digital Audio Workstation

when i was a kid, around 2000/2001, both of my parents were radio djs at the local classic rock station. i spent a lot of time at the station and in the studio, watching while they programmed their sets and took calls and recorded ad breaks. my love of music started with them sharing their music with me (most of which was NOT classic rock lmao), but my interest in audio editing and production started in that little room. this is a little overly-retro shrine to the first digital audio workstation/audio editor i ever used, one that i only had access to because of my parents' niche profession: SAW.

a screencapture of the software audio console's black and white gui, courtesy of rmllabs, robert lentini
a screencapture of the software audio console's black and white gui, courtesy of rmllabs, robert lentini

SAW (standing for "software audio workshop") was developed by robert lentini in 1993. the initial concept was what lentini called the "software audio console." the SAC was intended not to replace the analog mixing console, but to control it virtually. this eventually evolved into a computer-based editing system, which lentini intended to bring to the public for an affordable price utilizing digital audio labs' "cardD" soundcard.

in 1993, saw took off even while it was still in beta. orders came in by phone, and those orders were fulfilled by hand. at $599, it was significantly more affordable than its competitors that were being sold for thousands.

a screencapture of sawPLUS (1995), courtesy of rmllabs, robert lentini

by 1995, lentini's company "innovative quality software" (s tier name, gives us nothing) released sawplus, which is the version that i'm familiar with! despite it being ~5 years after its initial release, this was the software used at the broadcast studio. there were several other stations in the building, and i'm pretty sure they all just passed the same cracked .exe file around.

sawplus was, let's not beat around the bush, ugly as fuck. it also had a steep learning curve, and was extraordinarily limited by today's standards. despite (or maybe because of) that, it was an incredible learning tool for me. with sawplus, i learned about LR channel splitting, using multiple tracks, very rudimentary equalization, and simple recording techniques. i used it to make little songs, to record and edit audio from my sound card, even used it to participate in an early 00's alternate reality game. sawplus was the jumping off point for me, and what opened the door to other digital audio workstations in the future.

sadly, the flash drive that contained that cracked .exe has been lost to time for more than ten years now, and i can't find the old software anywhere online. you can, however, still get a more modern version of saw (sawstudio) from lentini's webstore.