Kind of funny that we're taking over this thread, lol, and it happened so fast too... just realized it.
But to answer your question(s), Well, for the first one which you semi-asked when you mentioned trying to get it working in 95/98 - This card was manufactured in 1999 and purchased in 2000, if that give you a time frame. Its actually one of the last ones as creative even stopped marking the chips with the es1373 and marked them CT5880 - but it is apperantly the exact same chip, and the Alsa module page lists the CT5880 as being under the same module as the others(snd-esn1371) ( Reference
Alsa appears to have automatically loaded that driver already, and it appears to be at least partially working, but(I still need to reboot back into mint and take screens of this too..) the mixer is missing controls, it appears to have all the recording and auxiliary controls but only has 2 playback controls, one is 3D Center and the other is 3D Depth, neither of which have any effect on volume of output as when unmuted and fully turned up it doesn't change the fact that there is no sound. Also both these controls are listed as mono output, however I don't think their output of any kind as in windows there are very similar named advanced controls, but one is a checkbox and the other is a slider that seems to add a stereo surround sound type of effect.
And there is no controls anywhere whatsoever listed that should be there, like PCM or similar output sliders. So as far as I can tell the problem could be as simple as it not showing the right sliders(and they are not listed in the ones you can turn on) and therefore having no way to unmute/turn up the volume, or what I think is more likely, is that for some reason it is not detecting the existence of those output channels at all. It certainly appears to be capable of recording(though I have not tested that yet) but its like someone removed all the output abilities.
Also on a side note... it seems that the box is the only place they named it the Sound Blaster 16 as even the windows drivers that came with it call it a 'Sound Blaster PCI 128', and the newer windows xp driver calls it, as I mentioned before, 'Creative AudioPCI (ES1371, ES1373 WDM)'.