[vcf-midatlantic] passing of MIDI developer

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Fri Jun 10 03:47:06 UTC 2022


Tonight I had a taste for some MIDI music. In searching the Web for it, 
I came across this obituary of Dave Smith, who passed a week ago. Known 
as a synthesizer designer of the late 70's, turns out he collaborated 
with Roland to create the MIDI specification.

This is a little out of my interests; but MIDI is really familiar to 
anyone who did personal computing and digital audio instruments in the 
80's. Maybe arcade games too, that's how they sounded.

MIDI is both a simple cabling and serial interface to connect digital 
audio instruments to a computer; and a specification for codes to 
represent instruments, tones and duration. Something between sheet music 
and a piano roll. The instrument renditions are pretty simple: square 
and triangular waveforms with envelopes. Not a hard program to write in 
8-bit assembler, a simple D/A, even a 1-bit R/C network.

It's incredibly data-compact to represent a song by notes and 
instruments. That mattered with 70's and 80's computers and later with 
consumer electronic piano keyboards, drumsets, etc. But to this day, a 
Web browser and most audio playback programs can play a MIDI file.

So I thought I'd give a shout-out as I'm listening to a MIDI theme from 
Duke Nukem. MIDI piano works pretty well too, there's lots of piano-roll 
to MIDI out there. So a Scott Joplin tune from 1902, realized in MIDI, 
sounds alright.  Or Gershwin!  89K bytes:


regards, Herb

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT comcast DOT net

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