NAMM: MIDI at 30

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), the protocol that we use to connect musical instruments together, has officially been around for 30 years now, and the occasion was being marked with an exhibit at NAMM:

There were some of the earliest instruments as well as those demonstrating how it is being used today. The Yamaha Disklavier series was quite prominent, as an instrument that is both acoustic and a MIDI device at the same time. There was also the Prophet 600, a forerunner to the Prophet 12 we reviewed yesterday and the first commercially available instrument to implement MIDI.

In the middle, between “1983” and “2013”, were a few of the devices I remember from the mid-1980s.

I had a Yamaha box (a sequencer) with the same beveled shape as the TX7 pictured here. And I was quite interested in the Atari ST computer, though was never able to get one. Both devices seem quite primitive today. Unlike the analog synthesizers that we have been reviewing, earlier digital devices don’t seem to hold up as well. Nonetheless, the MIDI protocol itself is still vital for much electronic music-making, despite its well-documented limitations in speed and resolution.