• 1950
    (b.) - ?


An engineer and musician who pioneered many groundbreaking technologies in music technology, he was responsible for the first polyphonic and microprocessor-controlled synthesizer, the Prophet 5, and later the multitimbral synthesizer. He is also referred to as the "Father of MIDI" for his role in the development of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI), now a standard interface protocol for electronic instruments and recording/pro audio equipment. Born in San Francisco, he has degrees in both Computer Science and Electronic Engineering from UC Berkeley, graduating in 1971. After college he joined Lockheed, but then made the transition to General Electric where he wrote software and did engineering working on big systems that were highly secret at the time. From there he went to Standard Microsystems and the got into some real technology; microprocessor-based work, working for a silicon company in San Jose. Then he went to Signetics, where he worked on one of the first microprocessors, the 2650. From there, he joined Diablo Systems, where he worked on printers and terminals working with hardware and software. He purchased a Minimoog in 1972 and later built his own analog sequencer, founding Sequential Circuits in 1974 and advertising his product for sale in Rolling Stone. By 1977 he was working at Sequential Circuits full-time, and later that year he designed the Prophet 5, the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument and also the first programmable polyphonic synth, a functionality adopted by virtually all synthesizer designs ever since. Sequential Circuits went on to become one of the most successful music synthesizer manufacturers of the time. In 1981 he set out to create a standard protocol for communication between electronic musical instruments from different manufacturers worldwide. He presented a paper outlining the idea of a Universal Synthesizer Interface (USI) to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in 1981 after meetings with Tom Oberheim and Roland's Ikutaro Kakehashi. After some enhancements and revisions, the new standard was introduced as "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" (MIDI) at the Winter NAMM Show in 1983, when a Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 was successfully connected to a Roland Jupiter-6. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the AES for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis. After Sequential, he was President of DSD, Inc, a Research and Development Division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. In May 1989 he started the Korg R&D group in California, which went on to produce the innovative and commercially successful Wavestation synthesizer and other technology. He went on to serve as President at Seer Systems] and developed the world's first software based synthesizer running on a PC. This synth, commissioned by Intel, was demonstrated by Andy Grove in a Comdex keynote speech in 1994. The second generation of this software synthesizer sold over 10 million copies, as a result of being licensed to Creative Labs in 1996; it was responsible for 32 of the 64 voices in Creative Labs' AWE 64 line of soundcards. The third generation of his software synthesizer, re-named Reality, was the world's first fully professional software synthesizer, and was released in 1997. He was both the lead engineer on Reality, and wrote all the low-level optimized floating point synthesis code. Reality was the recipient of a 1998 Editors' Choice Award, and earned Electronic Musician Magazine's highest possible rating. In 2002, he launched Dave Smith Instruments, a manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. He is the recipient of: the January 2013 Technical Grammy (along with Ikutaro Kakehashi) for the creation of MIDI; the September 2012: Keyboard Magazine Hall of Fame; the October 1987: Audio Engineering Society (AES) Fellowship Award, for having made a valuable contribution to the advancement in or dissemination of knowledge of audio engineering or in the promotion of its application in practice; and in September 2005 he was inducted into the TECnology (Technical Excellence and Creativity) Hall of Fame for the MIDI specification at the AES show by Mix Foundation.
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    Pioneer of many groundbreaking technologies in music and is considered to be the "father of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)"
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