Dave Smith is an engineer and musician and founder of the synthesizer company Sequential. Smith was responsible for the first commercial polyphonic and microprocessor-controlled synthesizer, the Prophet-5, and later the multitimbral synthesizer. He is also referred to as the "Father of MIDI" for his role in the development of MIDI, now a standard interface protocol for electronic instruments and recording/pro audio equipment.
Smith has degrees in both Computer Science and Electronic Engineering from UC Berkeley. He purchased a Minimoog in 1972 and later built his own analog sequencer, founding Sequential Circuits in 1974 and advertising his product for sale in Rolling Stone. By 1977 he was working at Sequential full-time, and later that year he designed the Prophet 5, the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument and also the first programmable polyphonic synth, a functionality adopted by virtually all synthesizer designs ever since. Sequential went on to become one of the most successful music synthesizer manufacturers of the time.
In 1981 Smith set out to create a standard protocol for communication between electronic musical instruments from different manufacturers worldwide. He presented a paper outlining the idea of a Universal Synthesizer Interface (USI) to the Audio Engineering Society (AES) in 1981 after meetings with Tom Oberheim and Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi. After some enhancements and revisions, the new standard was introduced as "Musical Instrument Digital Interface" (MIDI) at the Winter NAMM Show in 1983, when a Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 was successfully connected to a Roland Jupiter-6. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the AES for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis.