Twenty Years of History in the Making

2004 marks the 20th anniversary of Digidesign’s existence — and it’s been an adventure, for which we have our customers to thank.

Twenty years ago, personal computers were just beginning to go mainstream. A similar interest in finding a better way to do things drove Digidesign’s founders, Evan Brooks and Peter Gotcher, to concoct a product called “digidrums.” These replacement drum-sample chips for Drumulator, Linn, and other drum machines were the original inspiration that ultimately morphed into Pro Tools.

When the Gotcher/Brooks think tank began percolating, computers and music were still considered something of an esoteric combination. Tape, the recording media standard for decades previous, still reigned supreme, as did analog devices ranging from razor blades to colossal recording consoles. Along with its relative affordability and accessibility, many years of reliable use and experience supported analog’s place in the audio production world. It seemed an unshakable relationship; few in the industry sought an alternative.

But as the digital revolution quickly gathered steam, it inevitably dipped a tentacle into the audio world. New media options began popping up left, right, and everywhere in between.

On the music-making side of the equation, the presence of digital means was also gaining a foothold. Regardless of genre or style, digital and electronic instruments began to pop up in studios and on stages everywhere, having finally become affordable enough to make sense to musicians on almost every level. In 1983 the first electronic keyboards with MIDI were introduced, paving the way for increasingly powerful and sophisticated computer-based music systems. Those tools didn’t necessarily adjust the essence of songwriting so much as they introduced the possibilities of the digital world to a very wide audience.

Thus the great dovetailing began: the merging of personal computers, electronic/digital instruments, and popular acceptance. And Digidesign was not only riding the wave — as the eighties progressed, the company assumed an instrumental role in generating and propelling new advances. Inspired by the success of their initial venture, Gotcher and Brooks developed and released their Sound Tools product, an early digital recording system introduced in 1989. And by 1991, TDM-based Pro Tools I was born.

From that point on, Digidesign’s products developed rapidly, as ingenuity blossomed, technological means improved, and the competitive field broadened. 1994’s Pro Tools III embodied a major leap in performance and ushered software plug-ins into the picture, providing a new route for digital audio signal-processing innovations. With Avid’s purchase of Digidesign in 1995, integrated audio for picture became an integral part of the Pro Tools schema. In 1997, Pro Tools|24 took sound quality to the next level. It was succeeded a year later by Pro Tools|24 MIX, which added even greater TDM muscle through advanced DSP. Digidesign’s current flagship product, Pro Tools|HD and HD Accel, arrived in 2002 and 2003 respectively, setting yet another new standard in sound quality, performance, and flexibility. And most recently, the ICON integrated console environment has delivered an unprecedented degree of efficiency and quality to digital audio production.

Over the span of those years, we also saw a variety of powerful innovations that have proven themselves invaluable for music and post production: ProControl, Control|24, and Command|8 control surfaces; the Pro Tools LE family of products — including Digi 001, Mbox, Digi 002, and Digi 002 Rack — which brought professional production capabilities into home and project studios worldwide; AVoption, AVoption|XL, and AVoption|V10 for post facilities; DigiDelivery secure electronic file delivery; and the Digidesign Training & Education Program, to name a few.


As a tribute to its products, its development partners, and most importantly, its loyal customers, today the lobby of Digidesign’s headquarters is decorated with over 80 top industry awards, including an Oscar and a Grammy. Digidesign continues to benefit from some of the best brains in the business, largely people who are artists in their own right in addition to their work at Digi. Pro Tools is the industry standard digital audio workstation, ubiquitous around the planet. And products like ICON and the upcoming VENUE live sound environment indicate that Digidesign’s tradition of innovation continues to expand into new arenas.

But it is our customers who are truly responsible for our success, and we are mighty grateful for their support. Displaying a loyalty any business would kill for, they have been entirely instrumental in forming what are arguably the finest products in the business. Digidesign’s commitment to those who use our products — the engineers, mixers, producers, and artists behind Digidesign’s reputation — is all-important, and it is to them and you that we dedicate this anniversary.