Pro Audio

Dave Smith, creator of the iconic Prophet synthesizer and MIDI has died

Dave Smith, founder of Sequential and creator of MIDI has passed away at 72. From creating one of the world’s most iconic synthesizers — The Prophet 5 — to making MIDI, Dave Smith changed music forever.

The music community will be in mourning today. It’s hard to understand how much Dave Smith changed the way music was written, produced and recorded.

From founding Sequential in 1978 and releasing an instant classic — the Prophet 5, to creating MIDI — a protocol that is still used today across all music genres, Dave Smith gave so much to music across all genres around the world.

dave smith

Sequential shared a statement from their website today: “It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Dave Smith has died. We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists.”

Dave Smith was born in 1950 in San Fransisco. He completed two degrees — Computer Science and Electronic Engineering from UC Berkeley. After purchasing a Moog Minimoog in 1972 he then began designing his synthesizers. Dave then quit his job in 1977 and started working on the Prophet 5, and it was an instant classic, with countless emulations and a new release in 2020.

In a similar vein to the Fender Telecaster (Invented in 1951 and still as important as ever), the Prophet has evolved into a powerful series. There’s the Prophet 6, Prophet 8, Prophet Rev 2, Prophet 10 and Prophet 12 as well as the 2020 version of the Prophet 5 that added USB and MIDI, Aftertouch and Velocity.

prophet 5
Photo: Sequential Website

Dave Smith said in 2020 that the new Prophet 5 was his 70th birthday present to the world. What a sweetheart. So next time you use MIDI — whether that be the OG 5 pins or USB or a MIDI controller — please take a moment to remember this great man who gave so much to the music world. I own a Sequential Prophet Rev 2 and today I will be giving much thought to how amazing the instrument is and what Dave left for musicians to create great music with.

Always being big advocates for a healthy music community, Sequential has offered up an email address for those who wish to share their stories, memories or thoughts on Dave Smith: [email protected]

We’ll miss you, Dave.