MIDI allows instruments to talk to computers and to one another.
As engineers began connecting instruments to computers it became clear there needed to be a standard interface so that each instrument did not need to “talk” differently to each computer.
Smith, who holds degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. He created the MIDI standard by presenting a paper to the Audio Engineering Society in 1981.
Eventually, MIDI was quickly adopted and has since become ubiquitous. However, Smith never received any direct compensation for his work.
Smith at times questions his decision to forgo licensing fees for MIDI, but ultimately comes back to the same conclusion. “It seemed like an obvious thing to do at the time,” Smith said.
Eventually, the entire music industry adopted Smith’s MIDI standard to connect musical instruments to computers. Amazingly, the standard has not changed to this day. Smith founded and sold several small businesses creating electronic musical instruments.