Serial, Parallel, and Joystick Ports

Serial, Parallel, and Joystick Ports

Before USB and FireWire, personal computers were all generally equipped with serial, parallel, and (possibly) joystick ports, all of which have been used for connecting MIDI-equipped instruments (through special adapters). Though not always faster than MIDI-DIN, these connectors were already available on computers and that made them an economical alternative to add-on cards, with the added benefit that in general they already worked and did not need special configuration. The High Speed Serial Ports such as the "mini-DIN" ports available on early Macintosh computers support communication speeds roughly 20 times faster than MIDI-DIN, making it also possible for companies to develop and market "multiport" MIDI interfaces that allowed connecting multiple MIDI-DINs to one computer. In this manner it became possible to have the computer address many different MIDI-equipped devices at the same time. Recent multi-port MIDI interfaces use even faster USB or FireWire ports to connect to the computer.

Conlon Nancarrow and Black MIDI
White Paper: Comparison of MIDI and OSC