What is a daw

Timeline of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and relivant software

By SlcAlec
  • Universality Of MIDI

    Universality Of MIDI
    MIDI is a standard that is adopted by just about every DAW nowadays, and was adopted around 1983 by numerous hardware developers. It would be the pivotal means for communication between synths, controllers, and most importantly, DAWs.
  • Release of Sound Designer

    Release of Sound Designer
    Sound Designer was the previous name given to what would be called "Pro Tools" by 1991. The software was acclaimed for being a 4 track recording software that could store and playback audio samples at 16 bit 48000hz Files with a proprietary file format called (SDII). Although the early Iterations of Sound Designer was still prohibitive for most engineers and musicians, it was extremely helpful in reducing the costs associated with tape and playback machines.
  • Period: to

    Purpose Built Software

    Very often at the inception of every DAW, the feature set for each piece of software was relatively limited. Pro Tools (Originally called Sound Designer) was advertised as a “tapeless studio” with the breakout feature being that audio was capable of being stored on your Personal computer in 4 different Tracks. Cubase was initially a composition editing software using MIDI, and it included the first piano roll to come of DAWs. These DAWs were limited in functionality at the beginning.
  • Cakewalk released

    Cakewalk released
    Cakewalk was designed originally as a sequencer, similar to a Tracker software. It was developed by Twelve Tone (now disolved) and released on the DOS platform, and released with a breaking 16 MIDI channel limit. it was eventually moved to Windows 3.0 in 1991. By Version 7 Of Cakewalk, Freatures like Importing WAV and Mp3 audio files were added to Cakewalk, which cement it as DAW by today's standards.
  • RTAS Plug-ins released

    RTAS (Real-Time AudioSuite) is a plug-in format developed for Pro Tools before being replaced by the AAX format in 2011. It was the first format for plug-in effects and instruments in any DAW, however it was only limited to Pro Tools wherein they could be hosted.
  • Avid acquires DigiDesign

    Avid acquires DigiDesign
    Avid acquires DigiDesign, and rebrands Sound Designer into Pro Tools to fit with the naming scheme of Avid's other software products
  • Release of samplitude

    Release of samplitude
    MAGIX's Samplitude was initially a sample editor with 24-bit audio processing, before gaining the bells and whistles of a convential DAW in 1995. It would maintain a somewhat prominent presence in rock and roll oriented production. Samplitude was intially only avalible on the Amiga personal computer system, before being released on Microsoft Windows 3.1 in 1995
  • Release of Logic Pro

    Release of Logic Pro
    Logic Pro was Developed By Apple for the Mac OS platform, with the original name of Notator Logic. Notator Logic was originally designer to be used on both Windows and Apple machines before being exclusive to Mac OS in Logic 5. It was developed by German company Emagic, and originally competed in the composition space with Cubase and Cakewalk. Later, Logic would drop support for Windows, becoming a staple DAW for producers that use Mac OS devices.
  • DX/DXi released

    DX/DXi released
    DX/DXi are directx plugins are software component effects that replace studio racks in place for virtual effects in DAWS. DirectX plugins are of two different types, DirectX effect plugins (DX) and DirectX Instrument plugins (DXi). This format has all been abandoned, for only Cakewalk can open DX/DXi plug-ins. Recent installations of Cakewalk indicate that old preinstalled DX/DXI plugins are gone however.
  • VST Plug-ins released

    VST Plug-ins released
    VST is an audio plug-in software format that was developed and owned by Steinburg in 1996, and is used by all popular Plug-ins today. It ensures a standard for DAWs to find the instillation path of plug-ins, and also to provide parameters for DAWs to control or modulate. The first Plug-in developed for VST was a 16-voice synth called NEON
  • Release of Adobe Audition

    Release of Adobe Audition
    Adobe Audition (Originally called Cool Edit Pro) was developed by Adobe as a software solution to add to Adobe's lineup of creative tools. It contrasts from many DAW by not accepting MIDI. It is common to use Audition as only a mixing software, not a music production/creation software.
  • Release of Acid Pro

    Release of Acid Pro
    Acid Pro was developed by Magix Software and was originally called Acid pH1. It launched as a loop based music sequencer, using a proprietary Acid Loop file that could simply be dragged and dropped. Acid fit a niche of streamlining the process of shaping samples for quick sequencing of loops and one-shots
  • Release of Fruity Loops

    Release of Fruity Loops
    Fruity loops, developed by ImageLine, had a soft launch on 1997, before having an official launch on 1998. It featured Fruity Loops was later rebranded as "FL Studio", since the association With the popular Fruit Loops cereal would make it difficult to market, and legitimize as a DAW.
  • Release of Reason

    Release of Reason
    Propellerhead Software (now called Reason Studios), founded in 1995, released Reason in 2000 after creating loopbased products, namely, ReCycle and Rebirth RB-338. Reason was initially developed with the gimmick of reproducing analog synthesisers and effects, with the purpose of experiencing what working in a recording studio is like.
  • AU Plug-ins released

    AU Plug-ins released
    Developed by Apple, AU (Audio Unit) is another plug-in interface that directly operates with the Core Audio driver inside of all Apple devices. AU, in other words, works more efficiently with said driver selected than VST or AAX in most circumstances. AU is currently the only capable format of Plug-in accepted in Logic Pro and Garage Band.
  • Ableton Live released

    Ableton Live released
    To accompany for Live performances of Deejays and producers, Ableton Live was released initially as a loop launching software. It possessed superior Time-Warping modes to that of Fruity Loops and Pro Tools that was catered for live performances. Ableton Live didn't have the aspirations for being a DAW, but in Version 4 released in 2004, VST support and MIDI compliance was added to create the fundamental features of a DAW.
  • Release of Garage Band

    Release of Garage Band
    Garage Band was released in 2004 on Mac OS, and 2011 on iOS, being a feature limited version of Logic X. It comes preinstalled on All Mac OS devices, and is free. It originally was limited to 8 tracks, before slowly gaining more features oriented towards musicians as opposed to producers and engineers. As a free software, it does not contain Summing Tracks (Audio Busses), some of the plug-ins inside are feature limited, but the essentials are maintained, like access to VST and AU Plug-ins.
  • Release of Reaper

    Release of Reaper
    The REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Production, Engineering, and Recording) DAW, developed by Cockos was initially released as freeware for windows devices, slowly becoming a staple DAW in being open to various plugin formats and operating systems. It's initial release looks almost exactly identical to the latest stable build, as it came with every feature necessary to consider it a DAW. It can accept JS plug-ins that use the Java Programming language for its functionality.
  • Release Of Soundation

    Release Of Soundation
    Soundation is an Website host DAW By Developers of the same name. It was released in 2009, and contains loops and samples curtosy of Splice
  • Release of Studio One

    Release of Studio One
    Studio One was an iteration on a college project developed by Matthias Juwan in 1999. The software was called KRISTAL Audio engine and only lacked The capability to use midi for playback. Matthias would later work for PreSonus, where standard features that did not come to KRISTAL were added to the development of Studio One. Studio One in 2009. Studio One released with an impressive 27 Plug-ins with unlimited tracks. It also released on both Mac and Windows devices at its inception.
  • Period: to

    All in one production suites

    DAWs by the 2010s were advancing to a degree that some became only recognizable by name from their first inception. Every DAW begun creating entire production suites that a producer wouldn't need to switch DAWs for some kind of functionality of another. Plug-ins were getting cheaper, DAWs were certainly getting less expensive, and more equipment were getting more accessible.
  • AAX Plug-ins released

    AAX Plug-ins released
    Released in 2013, AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) Plugins supported 64 bit processing and are exclusively accessible through Pro Tools Versions later than 10. AAX were meant to replace the RTAS Plug-ins of old, as RTAS were only meant for 32 bit processing. Avid in 2013 dropped development of 32 bit Pro Tools, discontinuing development of plugins in RTAS.
  • ARA release

    ARA release
    ARA (Audio Random Access) is an extension for Plug-ins, allowing a greater amount of information to be exchanged between DAW and Plug-in. It Smoothens the experience of using plug-ins such that it appears the plug-in was made for the DAW. The most well recognised Plug-in that utilizes this technology is Melodyne, originally utilized with Studio One by PreSonus, and later Pro Tools, Reaper, Logic, and cakewalk with version 2.0.
  • Release of Bitwig

    Release of Bitwig
    Developed by Ex-Ableton Engineers, Bitwig was developed in 2014. Nowadays, it's a preferable option for the purpose of having more options with Plug-in formats (Bitwig accepts CLAP Plug-ins), and for the implementation of "The Grid" which is a modular device environment for creating eurorack style patches. Bitwig maintains some dominance over the creative sound design space by creating an un-obtusive user interface, and interesting sound design tools. It can even load Ableton Live Session Files!
  • MPE specification developed

    MPE specification developed
    MPE (Multi Polyphonic Expression) is a MIDI 2.0 feature that allows for per note Expression. This essentially means that a musician is able to apply modulation to individual notes as opposed to the expression affecting every note. announced in 2015 by the MIDI Association, DAWs eventually developed updates to accommodate for the standard, of which to note are Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, and Bitwig. Pictured is a Roli Seaboard, capable of MPE
  • CLAP Plug-ins released

    CLAP Plug-ins released
    CLAP (CLever Audio Plug-in) is an open source architecture for prominently audio plugins. It was developed to overcome legal and technical limitations of the VST format, and was first supported by developers U-He and Bitwig. CLAP features support with MIDI 2.0, Per note automation, and non destructive modulation.