“Father of MIDI” Dave Smith dies aged 72

Occasionally in life, you come across someone who was a real pioneer. Someone who was ahead of their time and brought about a seismic change in the way things were done. They’re usually too modest to recognise it themselves – but many others see it and know it.

Dave Smith was one of those people. A San Francisco born engineer and musician, he was the founder of the hugely influential synthesizer company Sequential. His company was responsible for the revolutionary Prophet-5. But even bigger than that was his role in the development of MIDI technology.

All those producers out there using Ableton or whatever their choice of DAW have Smith to thank for the MIDI technology which allows electronic instruments to not only communicate with computers, but also each other. Before that, if you had two synths by two different manufacturers, getting the two to work together would have been virtually impossible.

And it just shows how strong MIDI is when you consider it’s been around for over 40 years and has yet to be superseded – MIDI 2.0 was floated in early 2020, but all seems to have gone quiet on that front. So it’s with sadness that we report David J. Smith, to use his formal name, has died at the age of 72.

Sequential are looking for people to share their “thoughts and memories” on Smith – the email address is here. Might be worth doing – chances are Ears To The House and many others wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for him…

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