Csound is a unit generator-based, user-programmable computer music system. It was originally written by Barry Vercoe at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984 as the first C language version of this type of software. Since then Csound has received numerous contributions from researchers, programmers, and musicians from around the world.

Around 1991, John ffitch ported Csound to Microsoft DOS. Csound currently runs on many varieties of UNIX and Linux, Microsoft DOS and Windows, all versions of the Macintosh operating system including Mac OS X, and others.

There are newer computer music systems that have graphical patch editors (e.g. Max/MSP, PD, jMax, or Open Sound World), or that use more advanced techniques of software engineering (e.g. Nyquist or SuperCollider). Yet Csound still has the largest and most varied set of unit generators, is the best documented, runs on the most platforms, and is the easiest to extend. It is possible to compile Csound using double-precision arithmetic throughout for superior sound quality. In short, Csound must be considered one of the most powerful musical instruments ever created.

In addition to this "canonical" version of Csound and CsoundAC, there are other versions of Csound and other front ends for Csound, many of which can be found at