In the beginning were multitrack sequencers—software for recording, editing, and playing back MIDI data controlling external instruments. In 1990, Opcode Systems paired its sequencer with Digidesign’s digital audio hardware, and the DAW was born. Soon other companies developed competing DAWs, scoring numerous Editors’ Choice Awards along the way.
MOTU’s Digital Performer ushered in native hard-disk recording. Digidesign (acquired by Avid) advanced multitrack audio with Pro Tools. Steinberg Cubase made plug-ins part of our production workflows. Sonic Foundry’s Acid (acquired by Sony and then Magix) introduced the concept of looping sound clips. Propellerhead Reason delivered a virtual rack full of instruments, processors, and mixers. Ableton Live blurred the line between composing and performing. Apple acquired Emagic’s Logic and bundled it with tons of previously pricey instruments and processors as Logic Pro. Cakewalk introduced scripting language support into the DAW it later called Sonar. To this day, none of these products has stopped evolving.