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Introduced in 1994, ZIPI was hailed as the replacement for MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). A lack of commercial devices supporting ZIPI, the introduction of the superior "Firewire" (IEEE1394) standard, and the sufficiency of standard MIDI for most applications soon led to the practical demise of the standard.

Unlike MIDI (which used a peer-to-peer serial connection), ZIPI was designed as a bus standard, meaning that multiple instruments could share a single cable or chain. This led to somewhat complicated addressing standards that were a factor in the non-adoption of the standard.