Having completed the detailed History of Pro Tools we wanted to produce a condensed summary version that would fit into one article with links to the respective articles if you want to know more. We go from the very start of Digidesign all the way up to the present day with the release of Pro Tools 2018.3.
1983 - Digidrums - The history of Pro Tools goes all the way back to 1983 with the release of E-MU's Drumulator drum machine. Evan Brooks and Peter Gotcher, who were high school friends and both graduated from the University of California saw an opportunity and set about creating new sound libraries for the Drumulator and set up Digidrums, and offered upgrade EPROM microchips a year after the release of the E-MU drum machine.
1984 - Sound Designer - The first Digidesign audio editing software was introduced under the product name Sound Designer priced at $995, Sound Designer offered visual editing features for instruments like the Synclavier and Fairlight.
1989 – Sound Tools – On January 20, 1989, Digidesign founders Evan Brooks and Peter Gotcher unveiled Sound Tools, a Mac-based (SE or Mac II) 2-track digital recording/editing system. Offering outboard converters, Sound Designer II software and a $3,995 price tag.
1991 – Pro Tools 1.0 With Pro DECK/EDIT - On June 5th, 1991, Digidesign made a giant step with its debut of Pro Tools, a Mac-based system that integrated multitrack digital audio recording/editing, DSP and onscreen digital mixing. The platform originally supported four to 16 independent I/O channels, analog and digital I/O and SMPTE sync; 4 voices, ProDECK and ProEDIT software licensed from OSC, MIDI, and automation systems and was priced from $5,995 (plus the $6,700 for a Mac IIc with4 MB of RAM and an 80MB hard disk).
1992 – Pro Tools 1.1 – Support was added for upto 4 cards/interfaces for 4–16 voices.
1993 – Pro Tools 2.0 – merged ProDECK and ProEDIT into one application. The Digidesign team had recognised that relying on a third party to develop part of the Pro Tools software was a mistake. Version 2, released early in 1993, brought the software back in-house and introduced the now-familiar Pro Tools application with the DAE.
1994 – Pro Tools 2.5 – Digidesign introduced Pro Tools TDM, enabling real-time effects to run as plug-ins inside Pro Tools. Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), is a system that allows complex routing of multiple digital audio signals between DSP cards and enabled Pro Tools to run multiple real-time DSP-based TDM plug-ins simultaneously for the first time.
1994 – Pro Tools III – One of the key milestones in Digidesign hardware development was the introduction of ProTools III NuBus and Pro Tools 3.0 software offering 16 to 48 voices for NuBus-based Mac systems. It was a totally redesigned Nubus disk I/O card that was capable of sixteen tracks record and playback with advanced editing and mixing features that could be expanded to 3 cards for up to 48 tracks.
1995 - Pro Tools Project - Making its debut at the AES Show in 1995, the Pro Tools Project Core System included Pro Tools 3.2 software bundled with the Session 8 Mac audio card (renamed the Pro Tools Project Audio Card). The I/O choices included the 882 I/O and 882 Studio I/O. Pro Tools Project provided eight tracks of recording, with a list price of $2495.
1995 - Digidesign merged with Avid Technology - Avid was a major customer of Digidesign as Avid used the Digidesign cards and interfaces for the audio side of their products. The merger was announced at the AES Show in November 1994 and was completed in early 1995.
1996 – Pro Tools III PCI – The Disk I/O card was ported to the PCI-x format but offered little new advantages. It was still capable of 16 track record-playback and expansion to 48 tracks with additional cards, just like its Nubus predecessors.
1997 – Pro Tools|24 - This release saw the introduction of a redesigned 24-bit DSP audio card capable of 32 tracks (expandable to 64) with increased DSP power and support for Mac and Windows NT with PCI-x hardware, 24-bit audio, 32–64 voices and the PCI DSP Farm had the Motorola 56002 processors.
1997 – Pro Tools 4.0 – With this release, came destructive editing, automation improvements, and AudioSuite plug-ins.
1997 – Pro Tools Free (3.4) - In November 1997 Digidesign announced Pro Tools 3.4 PowerMix, the first freeware software-only version of Pro Tools.
1998 – Pro Tools 24 MIX and MIXplus – Pro Tools 24 MIX came with 64 voices, expanded DSP abilities and billed as a more powerful system with 300% more DSP power than a Pro Tools 24 system. Pro Tools 24 MIXPlus was the MIX Core and Mix-Farm Bundle that brought 700% more DSP performance.
1998 – ProControl – Digidesign introduced the first in a series of control surfaces for Pro Tools, which provided motorised, touch-sensitive faders, knobs, and switches, an analog Control Room section, for monitoring control and studio communication. Pro Control used Ethernet connectivity to the host computer.
1999 – Pro Tools 5.0 – With the 5.0, Digidesign released the first Pro Tools version with a MIDI Editor. New audio editing tools were added as well as a time compression and expansion mode to the Trim tool. TDM users got Continuous Scroll during Playback as well as Continous Scroll With Playhead.
1999 – Digi 001 with Pro Tools LE – Pro Tools LE was introduced as a host-based Pro Tools environment with Real-time AudioSuite (RTAS) host-based processing. The small 24-track LE system with PCI card and 19" Interface with 18 individual I/Os made Pro Tools affordable even for small studios and musicians.
2000 – Pro Tools 5.0.1 – This update brought serial number authorisation for the LE software and Low Latency Monitoring for the Audiomedia III and Digi 001 hardware as well as support for Windows 98.
2000 – Pro Tools Free - This was a trimmed down version of Pro Tools 5 LE that let you record up to 8 audio tracks, 48 MIDI tracks, up to 5 inserts and 5 sends per track and 16 busses to route to. It worked with 16-bit or 24-bit sessions of audio, had RTAS support and worked with any interface, not just Digidesign interfaces.
2000 - Pro Tools 5.1 - This was the first version of Pro Tools to support surround sound, from LCR through 5.1 up to 7.1. To handle all these extra channels, we saw the arrival of multi-mono and surround versions of plug-ins as well as a new I/O window. Beat Detective came in Pro Tools 5.1 for TDM systems only and for music users it changed the way we edited music forever.
2001 – Control 24 – This was Digidesign's second attempt at a control surface. The Control 24 included Focusrite preamps as well as being a control surface with 24 touch-sensitive motorised faders, 16 Focusrite Class A Mic Preamps, Control Room Section capable of up to 5.1 surround monitoring and with dedicated EQ and Dynamics switches on every channel.
2002 – Pro Tools HD - At the NAMM Show in early 2002, new Pro Tools HD hardware was unveiled as the successor to Pro Tools TDM. Pro Tools HD was a DSP accelerated system that supported 96KHz and 192KHz sample rates for the first time as well as larger mixer configurations than previously possible. Digidesign introduced the new Pro Tools HD hardware in conjunction with the 192 I/O Audio Interfaces.
2003 – Mbox - The small, light blue MBox allowed Pro Tools to operate for the first time without a plug-in card on a laptop or PowerBook. It was a 2-channel USB audio interface with analog and digital I/O and featured Focusrite Mic-preamps, 24-bit clean I/O, Zero-latency monitoring, and is 100% USB powered. List price was $495 including Pro Tools LE v.5.2.
2003 – Digi 002 - The successor to the Digi 001 series was a combination of hardware controller, mixer and audio interface. The Digi 002 and 002R were connected via FireWire to the host computer and offered 32-track audio recording/playback.
2003 – Pro Tools HD Accel system – Digidesign released their latest DSP card, rather than a being completely new system, the HD Accel PCI cards were designed to slot into Digidesign's Pro Tools HD system. The 'master' HD Core card was unchanged, additional cards could now be Accel cards or the original HD Process cards. In addition to the extra plug-in power, HD rigs with these new cards benefited from 50% higher voice counts, giving a maximum of 192 audio tracks at 44.1 or 48 kHz.
2003 - 96i I/O - Digidesign introduced the 96i I/O audio interface than offered 16 inputs that was pitched as an affordable interface option for musicians who want to play their keyboards and synths in Pro Tools.
2003 - Digi 002 Rack - The 19" 2U rack version of Digi 002 came on the market and offered the same features as the Digi 002 without the control surface.
2003 – Pro Tools 6.0 – V6.0 brought support for Mac OS X, a complete re-design of the user interface and the new DigiBase Browser.
2003 – Pro Tools 6.1 – This brought support for Windows XP and ReWire. Most of the features in Pro Tools 6.0 were Mac OSX only, so Pro Tools 6.1 brought the new features introduced in v6.0 for Mac OSX to Windows XP. Pro Tools 6.1 brought support for the ReWire technology developed by Propellerhead Software as an RTAS plug-in on Pro Tools TDM and LE systems.
2013 - DV Toolkit Option for Pro Tools LE - This enabled LE users to unlock time-code features for working with film, video, or digital video in Pro Tools LE, and opened a much more cost-effective option for audio post-production than Pro Tools TDM.
2004 – ICON D-Control – For the first time, the new D-Control allowed Pro Tools users to mix larger TV/film projects within the workstation without using a conventional mixing console. The basic configuration for D-Control was 16 faders and a centre section, with the option of having the fader ‘buckets’ positioned on either side of the master module.
2004 - Command|8 Control Surface - The Command|8 was a low-cost USB-based control surface for Pro Tools, developed in a collaboration between Digidesign and Focusrite running on Windows XP or Mac OS X.
2004 – Pro Tools 6.4 – The key feature for the TDM version of Pro Tools 6.4 was delay compensation for managing DSP delays that occurred on audio tracks, Auxiliary inputs, or Master Faders because of plug-in use and mixer routing.
2005 – Pro Tools 6.9 - Pro Tools 6.9 brought up the number of buses up to 128 and the number of auxiliary tracks up to 160. Digidesign changed the way of handling multiple sections including selecting or deselecting non-contiguous selections on tracks, region list and Show/hide lists. There were a whole raft of new features in Pro Tools 6.9 most of which are specific to the TDM version.
2005 - D-Command - The little brother of D-Control came on the market. The base model had 8 faders, the extension offers another 16. The D-Command was designed to provide similar functionality to the D-Control, but in a smaller unit at a lower cost.
2005 – Mbox 2 - The Mbox 2 was developed from the ground up, exclusively by Digidesign, with newly designed preamps and new A/D and D/A converters and integrated MIDI.
2005 – Pro Tools 7.0 - This version brought support for Apple's PCIe G5 and the new Mbox2 interface on Pro Tools 7.0LE. Digidesign introduced a new '.ptf' file format with Pro Tools 7.0 and was the first time that there was one consolidated Mac and Window format that made the PC/Mac compatibility tick box obsolete.
2005 – Avid acquired Wizoo - Digidesign spent $5 million in cash on the acquisition of Wizoo Sound Design, GmbH, headquartered in Bremen, Germany. The result of this acquisition was the creation of Advanced Instrument Research (AIR) as a development arm of Avid to create virtual instruments and plug-ins for Pro Tools.
2005 - Pro Tools HD PCIe - Apple changed to PCIe slots in their G5's in late 2005, and many PC manufacturers changed over around the same time. PCIe used a smaller connector type than PCI and PCI-X. As a result, Digidesign launched the PCIe version of Pro Tools HD cards.
2006 – Pro Tools 7.2 - Version 7 was the big user interface overhaul, and was largely aimed at music composition users. 7.11 added native support for Intel Macs, the beefed-up Music Production, DV Toolkit 2, and the Hybrid & Xpand! Instruments. Version 7.2 added a large array of new things, but the biggest single theme was a suite of high-end mixing and post-production features. It was an HD only release and was particularly useful if you had an Icon controller.
2006 – Mbox 2 Pro - The new Mbox 2 Pro was the first portable Pro Tools interface that connected to the host computer via Firewire rather than USB.
2007 – 003 and 003 Rack - The Digidesign 003 family replaced the 002's predecessor and brought better converters. Like the 002, the 003 combined a multi-channel audio and MIDI interface with an eight-fader control surface, while its rackmount sibling included the interface without the control surface. The 003 range followed the Mbox 2 Pro and included word clock in and out ports.
2007 – Mbox 2 Micro - The M Box 2 Micro had a refreshingly minimal feature set: it provided a headphone output with a thumbwheel volume control, and that was it.
2007 - Digidesign C24 - The new C24 replaced the Control 24. The large height, which was often criticised in the old Control 24, was significantly reduced and the new C24 was oriented more towards the hardware controllers on the market at the time. This is still a current product on the Avid website making it the oldest current product in the Avid range at 11 years although Avid announced it's end of life date as 31st December 2017, with an end of support date 5 years later as 31st December 2022.
2007 – Pro Tools 7.4 – The biggest new feature in the 7.4 upgrade was something Digidesign called Elastic Audio. The idea behind Elastic Audio was that it allowed you to work with audio in the Edit Window as if it was MIDI. All the things you took for granted with MIDI — moving and stretching notes and phrases, conforming loops to new tempos — could now be done with audio regions.
2008 – Pro Tools 8 – This release brought a revamped user interface, as well as Elastic Pitch, Score Editor, MIDI Editor and AIR plug-ins. The user interface received a facelift, changing from white to grey which was believed to be more pleasant for the eyes. Elastic Pitch provided a simple pitch correction option and the Universe View provided an overview of the entire session, with the waveforms displayed in more detail with 16-bit resolution.
2008 – 003 Rack+ - Digidesign extended the 003 family with this 2U rackmount unit that featured eight microphone preamps (with front panel gain control) and eight line/DI inputs, Word Clock, MIDI I/O, digital I/O via S/PDIF, ADAT light pipe connection and like the other members of the 003 family connected to your laptop or desktop computer via FireWire.
2008 - ES | D-Control - Digidesign changed the appearance of the D-Control and gave us the ICON D-Control ES, as a sleeker version of the ICON D-Control in black.
2009 – Pro Tools M-Powered Essential – This software was only ever bundled with four M-Audio product families, Pro Tools KeyStudio, Pro Tools Recording Studio. Pro Tools Vocal Studio and Fast Track. It was a cut-down version of Pro Tools with support for up to 24-bit/96 kHz recording depending on the M-Audio interface, with up to 16 total mono/stereo audio tracks, 4 Aux tracks, 8 Instrument tracks, 8 MIDI tracks and 1 Master Fader.
2009 – Eleven Rack – The Eleven Rack was not just a multi-effects unit, or an amp modeller, or just a Pro Tools interface. It was actually all three together and more in one unit. It is the oldest current Avid product that has not been given an end of life date by Avid and you can still find it on the Avid website.
2009 - Digidesign Icon D-Command ES - Like its larger brother the D-Control Digidesign changed the appearance of the D-Command and gave us the ICON D-Command ES, as a sleeker version of the ICON D-Command.
2010 - Avid Drop The Digidesign Brand Name - Fifteen years after Avid bought Digidesign, the name Digidesign finally disappeared. To announce the changes Avid published an open letter explaining it everyone.
2010 – Pro Tools Mbox, Mini, Pro – third generation - This was the first full release by Avid, although these were often referred to as the Mbox3 family or the 3rd Generation Mbox family Avid wanted to simply call them the Mbox family.
2010 – Instrument Expansion Pack - The Pro Tools Instrument Expansion Pack bundled the latest versions of five existing virtual instruments from Avid's AIR division. Structure 1.1, Transfuser 1.3, Velvet 1.3, Strike 1.5, and Hybrid 1.6 made up the entire AIR instrument line at the time. The pack included 55GB of content, 16.5GB of which was new, and loads and loads of presets.
2010 – Pro Tools HD Series Interfaces – The new HD Series interfaces - HD I/O, HD OMNI and HD MADI offered customers flexible configurations to support a variety of analogue and open digital formats for audio recording, mixing and playback.
2010 – Pro Tools 8.1 & HEAT software On Pro Tools HD DSP - Pro Tools 8.1 brought support for the new interfaces, HD I/O, HD MADI and HD Omni as well as the HEAT software for HD systems only.
2010 – Pro Tools HD Native - Avid introduced Pro Tools HD Native, which offered the full capabilities of Pro Tools HD software whilst running entirely on a host computer's CPU power, without the additional dedicated processing hardware included in larger Pro Tools HD DSP systems.
2010 – Pro Tools 9 – Pro Tools 9 was a significant turning point in the history of Pro Tools. Pro Tools 9 replaced Pro Tools LE and offered 3rd party hardware I/O support, EUCON control protocol integration and collaboration enhancing features. Pro Tools HD and HD Native software were also upgraded to version 9 with the software being unified for all types of systems for the first time.
2010 – Avid acquired Euphonix - As a result, Avid integrated EuCon protocols into Pro Tools, and added the Artist Series and System 5 Family to its arsenal of control surfaces.
2011 – Pro Tools 10 – With the release of Pro Tools 10 Avid added over 50 new features to Pro Tools. You could mix multiple audio file formats and bit depths within the same session, including interleaved, without any file duplication together with support for the 32-bit floating-point file format. With Pro Tools 10 Avid delivered a new plug-in format - AAX that would replace both TDM and RTAS plug-ins with AAX DSP and Native versions.
2011 – Pro Tools HDX – Avid announced a new interface card to be the successor to "Accel" cards. Avid offered complete system bundles with Pro Tools HDX & HD Omni, Pro Tools HDX & HD I/O and Pro Tools HDX and HD MADI with bundle prices that started at $9,999.
2012 – Avid sells M-Audio and AIR to inMusic - Avid, announced that it would sell off its consumer audio and video product lines, in a deal worth around $17 million.
2012 - Pro Tools Native Thunderbolt - Avid launched the first Thunderbolt product at the IBC in Amsterdam. It was almost identical to the PCIe version but had a high-quality headphone jack. Avid explained that thanks to Thunderbolt, the new Pro Tools HD Native unit provided the “highest performance and lowest latency of any native DAW” yet.
2013 – Pro Tools 11 – Pro Tools 11 was the first 64-bit Pro Tools application. As promised when Avid announced Pro Tools 10, RTAS and TDM plug-in support was dropped in favour of the 64-bit AAX (Avid Audio eXtension) format that Avid first released with Pro Tools 10.
2013 - S6 Control Surface - Avid announce that they have ‘leveraged the best of the ICON and System 5 product families in a revolutionary new modular design’. The new Avid S6 was built around 2 core frames, the S6 M40 allowing for up to 41 modules and the smaller S6 M10 allowing for up to 9 modules.
2014 – Pro Tools Duet and Pro Tools Quartet – This was a collaboration with Apogee Electronics and Avid and helped to provide two mid-ranges interfaces to the Avid range without a huge and expensive development process.
2014 - Avid Everywhere - At the Avid Connect event Avid CEO, at the time, Louis Hernandez Jr unveiled Avid Everywhere, their version of the digital media future. Avid Everywhere was essentially a content sharing and distribution platform down to the lowest level of the creation process.
2014 - Avid S3 Control Surface - Avid announced the baby brother to their S6 mixing console, the Avid Pro Tools S3 control surface. It packed enormous power and accelerated mixing efficiency for faster turnarounds, into a smaller form factor, making it useful, from project studios to the largest, most demanding facilities. Its small form factor makes it ideal for smaller spaces for those working from home or freelancers working on the road.
2015 – Pro Tools First – After a very long wait Avid finally announced another free version of Pro Tools called Pro Tools First. It was designed to offer a complete set of audio and MIDI features for easy music creation and because it offered the same core tools as Pro Tools.
2015 – Pro Tools 12.0 – At NAMM show at the beginning of 2015, Avid debuted a new licensing model with Pro Tools 12 and took the first step towards collaborating and connecting the Pro Tools software to the Internet. Pro Tools 12 promised new flexible licensing options, which allowed customers to rent Pro Tools from as little as $29.99 per month, or to buy it outright with a perpetual license for $899.
2015 – Pro Tools 12.1 – In June 2015, for Pro Tools Standard owners, there was an increased track count to 128 Audio tracks and 512 Instrument tracks and this started the transition of HD features to the standard version.
2015 – Pro Tools 12.2 – In September 2015 more HD only features were rolled into Pro Tools 12.2 Standard including VCAs, Disk Caching, Advanced Metering options and Gain Reduction Metering.
2015 - Avid Pro Tools Dock Control Surface - The Pro Tools Dock was a EUCON control surface for integrating the free iPad app, Pro Tools Control, with the aim of making the Dock into the touchscreen found on the Master Touch Module of the Pro Tools S6. The Dock could also be paired with the Pro Tools S3, giving enhanced functionality including - dedicated automation switches, transport controls, weighted aluminium jog wheel and colour-coded Soft Key switches.
2015 – Pro Tools 12.3 – In November 2015 Pro Tools 12.3 brought Track Commit, fade presets, batch fades, and clip graphic overlay.
2015 – Pro Tools 12.4 – In December 2014 we finally got Track Freeze which was perhaps the most requested feature from Pro Tools users added to both Pro Tools HD and Pro Tools Standard. Track Freeze enabled Pro Tools users to reclaim CPU power by 'freezing' instruments and plug-ins on the Pro Tools timeline as audio.
2016 – Pro Tools 12.5 – Cloud Collaboration, updated Avid Video Engine, send to playback (Interplay). Pro Tools 12.5 brought cloud collaboration which started to make sense of the features that Avid had been adding like Track Freeze and Track Commit. It brought a new kind of Pro Tools session called a Pro Tools Project which is a session shared in the cloud.
2016 – Pro Tools 12.6 – In September 2016 Avid added Clip Effects, Layered Editing, and playlist improvements to Pro Tools 12.6, which was the 3rd major release in 9 months and with Pro Tools 12.6 it became possible to buy Pro Tools HD software standalone, without having to buy any hardware.
2016 – Pro Tools 12.7 – Pro Tools | MTRX support, project revision history, workspace improvements. In December 2016 Pro Tools 12.7 was the latest update of Pro Tools 12 and was the sixth quarterly update in a row that Avid released and was planned to be the first of a number of music creation centric updates and added revision history to Pro Tools projects in the cloud collaboration workflow, tagging in the Workspace browser and 2GBs of audio loops from Loopmasters.
2017 – Pro Tools 12.8 – Dolby Atmos integration and NEXIS optimization (Pro Tools HD), workspace and project enhancements (Pro Tools), Cloud Collaboration (Pro Tools First).
2017 - Pro Tools First Update - In June Avid made some changes to their free version - Pro Tools First. With Pro Tools First you now got Track Freeze, the ability to collaborate with any Pro Tools user, and there was a new expanded plan, which included local storage of sessions with Pro Tools First for $4.99 per month.
2017 – Pro Tools 12.8.1 – In August Avid released Pro Tools 12.8.1 that included integration of zplane élastiqueAAX, which could now be selected as the default time stretch algorithm in Pro Tools when using the MultiTool for those who own this time stretch plug-in. Pro Tools 12.8.1 also brought Ambisonics VR Track support, Dolby Atmos enhancements, MIDI editing & recording features, as well as Batch renaming features.
2017 - Pro Tools 12.8.2 - In October Avid released 12.8.2. Included in this update were a handful of new features for users of Pro Tools First, Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD. Pro Tools 12.8.2, and included new MIDI features, batch track/clip renaming and VR features (HD only).
2017 - Pro Tools 12.8.3 - In December Avid released 12.8.3 which was the first version of Pro Tools fully qualified for use with macOS High Sierra (10.13.2) as well as adding video engine support for XAVC Long GOP files and 1080p50 project types to help you integrate with more post workflows.
2018 – Pro Tools 2018.1 – This brought iLok Cloud support, Track Presets, target playlist, retrospective MIDI record, MIDI Editing enhancements, EQ Curves in the Mix window, improved Import Session Data to Pro Tools as well as a new numbering scheme in January 2018.
2018 - Pro Tools 2018.3 - Avid continue their drive to improve Pro Tools with regular releases. Following their version number change, Pro Tools 2018.3 was a March 2018 release and was a bug fix release to try and pick up on the various bugs with fixes for control surfaces, fixing crashes and errors, Editing, Import, Installer, Key Commands, MIDI, Monitoring and UI/Dialogs.