Sad news from Sequential as they announce that company founder and synthesizer pioneer Dave Smith has died at the age of 72. The news was broken on the company's Instagram page, where Sequential requested that fans “visit our website if you’d like to share your thoughts and memories of Dave”.
There are certainly no shortage of fans and no shortage of memories. A legend in the music technology world, Smith was responsible for not only the ground-breaking Prophet 5 synthesiser, but was an integral part of pulling together the MIDI protocol as a collaborative standard. His was a lifetime of incredible explorations in music technology, including somewhat ironically, being the co-creator of the first commercial software synthesizer running on the PC platform, the Reality synthesizer by Seer Systems.
I've written a lot about Dave and Sequential over the years as a music technology writer (and more recently here on the blog), and it was always a source of inspiration to see his smiling face at trade shows and doing the media rounds for each new launch or reboot. This is especially so for those of us who have built technology companies. Seeing the likes of Dave Smith, and his contemporaries like Roger Linn and Tom Oberheim, bouncing back after having their entire industry vertical wiped out in the 80s and 90s is nothing short of an important life lesson. Not to mention the product that they've shipped since have been truly excellent - in Dave's case the curious Evolver in 2002 was a first step back into reclaiming his company name, and his rightful place as engineer of a new generation of Prophets. And the growing community of fans and collectors.
From this community comes an outpouring of appreciation and remembrance for Dave Smith and his life's work, as well as the personal impact he had in and around the industry of creatives over the decades. It is a reminder that the pioneers we take for granted in our generation of music technology are more than just logos and brands (and at times very unusual synth ads), and the outpouring of personal reflections remind us to not take for granted these early contributors to an industry that was built for us from hard work and imagination.
Thank you Dave.