Dave Smith was an American engineer and the founder of synthesizer company Sequential Circuits, known for releasing the Prophet-5 synthesizer. He is also considered the "Father of MIDI", having an important role in the creation of MIDI.
Smith's interest in music technology started in the early 70s when he got an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degree. He already had an interest in music so he bought a Minimoog, but wanted to do more with it, and later built a sequencer that would work with Moogs and ARP synthesizers. This would become Sequential Circuits' first product in 1974.
His day job involved working with microprocessors, so Smith had the idea of combining microprocessor technology and synthesizers to make a programmable, polyphonic synthesizer. He assumed Moog or ARP would inevitably release a synth like this, but when no such synth appeared, Smith decided to design one. This would be the Prophet-5, released in 1978. It was such a hit that the waiting list for one went on for years.
Later Dave Smith would go on to take part in the creation of MIDI (with Roland, Yamaha, Korg and Kawai) and a key role in the development of the Korg Wavestation. In the mid 90s, he created the first professional software synth, Reality.
He went back to hardware synthesizers with Dave Smith Instruments' Evolver, and continued to release numerous synthesizers throughout the 2000s and 2010s. In 2013, Dave Smith and Ikutaro Kakehashi of Roland fame were awarded Technical Grammy awards for their work in creating MIDI.
Yamaha gave the Sequential brand back to Dave Smith as a goodwill gesture in 2015, and so Dave Smith Instruments changed its name to Sequqnaitl. 2020 saw the re-release of the Prophet-5, now at its fourth revision.
Sequential announced on social media on June 1st that Dave Smith had passed away.