Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits, the premier manufacturer of professional music synthesizers, in the mid-70s. In 1977, he designed the Prophet-5, the world’s first microprocessor-based musical instrument. This revolutionary product was the world’s first polyphonic and programmable synth, and set the standard for all synth designs that have followed. The Prophet instruments played a major part in the recordings of all popular music styles, and are still prized by musicians today.
Dave is also generally known as the driving force behind the generation of the MIDI specification in 1981—in fact, he coined the acronym. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis. After Sequential, Dave was President of DSD, Inc, an R&D division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. He then started the Korg R&D group in California, which went on to produce the professional musician favorite Wavestation products and other technology. He then took over 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. Over 10 million of his second-generation software synth have been sold, which was licensed to Creative Labs in 1996, and is responsible for 32 of the 64 voices in the AWE 64 line of Sound Cards. The third generation is the world’s first first fully professional software synthesizer, Reality, released in 1997. Reality was rated the highest of any synth by Electronic Musician magazine.
In 2002, Dave founded Dave Smith Instruments to develop new hardware instruments like the Evolver, Mopho, and Prophet synthesizers, as well as the Tempest drum machine, codesigned with friend and fellow electronic instrument designer Roger Linn. In 2013, Dave received a Technical Grammy in recognition of his role in the development of MIDI.