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The History Of MIDI

The History Of MIDI

We put together a series of articles about the history of electronic music and MIDI. Here are links to the series.


MIDI History:Chapter 1- 850 AD to 1850 AD -

To really understand the origins of MIDI, you need to go all the way back to before there were digitally controlled synthesizers and computers, In fact you need to go back before there was even electricity to the very first mechanical music machines.

MIDI History:Chapter 2-Player Pianos 1850-1930 -

The golden age of mechanical music machines really came in the late 19th century and early 20th century with player pianos and orchestrions. A player piano is defined as any actual acoustic piano that is played by a pneumatic or electro-me

History Of MIDI:Chapter 3-Orchestrions 1900-2015 -

From mechanical to digital to virtual....and back! The relationship between mechanical musical machines and MIDI gets even more intriguing with orchestrions and "fairground organs". Orchestrions are mechanical musical machines that have multipl

MIDI History:Chapter 4-Early Synthesizers 1900-1950 -

Electronic musical instruments had been around in some form since the late nineteenth century. The Telharmonium and the Singing Telegraph date back to the beginnings of electricity itself while throughout the first half of the twentieth century

MIDI History:Chapter 5-Synths Come of Age 1950-1983 -

The word 'Synthesizer' didn't arrive on the scene until the 1950s with the RCA Synthesizer I and II, but it wasn't long before these room-sized pieces of engineering had been, themselves, 'synthesized' down into more acceptable components and 'modules' thanks to the pioneering work of visionaries like Dr. Robert Moog, Don Buchla, Harold Bode, Pete Zinovieff, and Dave Cockerell.


MIDI History:Chapter 6-MIDI Is Born 1980-1983 -

Visionaries including Dave Smith from Sequential Circuits, and Ikutaru Kakehashi from Roland began to worry that this lack of compatibility between manufacturers would restrict people's use of synthesizers, which would ultimately inhibit sales growth. Talk of a 'universal' digital communication system thus began circulating in 1981. Dave Smith and Chet Wood presented a paper that year at AES proposing a concept for a Universal Synthesizer Interface running at 19.2 kBaud, using regular 1/4" phone jacks.


Historical Early MIDI Documents Uncovered -  

MIDI 1.0 Specification From August, 1983 Uncovered at Yamaha US offices in April, 2018. Recently we uncovered some unique historical MIDI These were discovered in a file cabinet at Yamaha Corporation

MIDI From The Inside -

This post was contributed by the well known film composer Jeff Rona. Jeff was the first president of the MIDI Manufacturers Association and ran the MMA from 1983 until 1992.  Jeff was instrumental (pun intended) in getting MIDI started.

Craig Anderton's Brief History Of MIDI -

The MIDI specification first saw the light of day at the 1981 AES, when Dave Smith of Sequential Circuits presented a paper on the Universal Synthesizer Interface. It was co-developed with other companies (an effort driven principally by Roland's I

Ikutaro Kakehashi passes away at 87 -  

Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland and co-inventor of MIDI passes away Ikutaro Kakehashi was certainly one of the most influential figures in electronic music in the 20th century. He influenced music and technology throughout his lifetime.
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The MIDI Association at Winter NAMM 2016
MIDI Tutorials