The BBC has published an interesting retrospective on the history of MIDI, celebrating 30 years of MIDI.
The article quotes MIDI creator Dave Smith on the origin of MIDI:
“You could play one keyboard with your right hand and another keyboard with your left hand,” says Dave Smith, a synthesiser manufacturer from California who was working on the issue back then. “But [musicians] couldn’t play more than one at the same time because there was no way of electrically interconnecting them,” he remembers.
“Computers were fast enough to be able to sequence notes, control the number of keyboards and drum machines at the same time… it kind of opened up a whole new industry.”
Celebrating the 30th anniversary is arguably a bit premature, since MIDI was publicly introduced at the 1983 NAMM Show, and was published as a standard in October of that year.
But in 1982, Dave Smith created the Prophet 600 (shown above), which was the first synth to implement his proposed specification.
Whether you think the anniversary should be celebrated now, on the anniversary of MIDI’s introduction or on the anniversary of it becoming a standard, it’s worth celebrating, because it jumpstarted a new wave of innovation in synths and electronic music gear.