Celebrating 30 Years of MIDI

Alex Calhoun —  February 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

Now that we have had some time to come down off the gear high brought on by this years NAMM show, we can reminisce about why this year was such a momentous milestone for electronic music. 30 years ago,  synth guru and Sequential Circuits founder Dave Smith, was able to premier a MIDI connection between a Sequential Circuits Prophet 600 and a Roland JP-6 synthesizer. With this advent, the world of electronic music was changed forever.

MIDI was developed out of necessity of a standard way to control different electronic instruments by different manufacturers. Older, monophonic synthesizers worked fine with voltage control, but lacked a standard, and with the advent of polyphonic and digital synths, a need was created. Eventually, as the home computer became more available in the 80s, MIDI control was extended into computer music production, and the rest is history.

NAMM 2013 did not mark this anniversary lightly, featuring a panel discussion of the past, present, and future of MIDI with some of the visionaries of electronic music.

At last weeks Grammy Awards, Dave Smith and Ikutaro Kakehashi (founder of Roland Instruments) were presented with a Technical Grammy Award for the impact that MIDI has made on the music industry as a whole.

It’s hard to imagine electronic music today without USB MIDI controllers. We are blessed to have geniuses like Dave Smith still alive and helping us to move into the future. Check out this interview with Mr. Smith from NAMM 2013 to hear it from the man himself.


Alex Calhoun


Alex Calhoun is a writer, vinyl collector, and lover of all things odd and electronic. He currently lives in the Detroit Metro area.
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