"I'll make the world as I like it"
1986: Software was expensive, reading the (voluminous) manuals was a pain - and finally I always found myself in the same situation: using what I had learned, attempting to abuse the program to do what it was not intended to do. An unsatisfying solution. I therefore decided to learn C programming - which was something extremely outlandish at that time. It was 1990/91 when I came across MAX, and I couldn't have dreamed it any better.
Customized software for composers and instrumentalists. Finally it is possible to have the computer in the background - and instead just use an iPad as a touch-panel controller on the instrument. "Interfaces" are the key to playability (The interface e.g. for the trumpet consists of the mouthpiece and the valves, for the piano it's keys and pedals.
Keyboards, controllers and MIDI have improved a lot. MPE (a kind of beefed up MIDI) is a blessing and MIDI 2.0 has been announced. Keyboards are now available with real action and usable mini-keyboards no longer belong in the toy realm. With the Roli Rise (and "Keywaves") there is also an excellent new instrument on the market, which is oriented in layout to the piano.
For me MAX is "the" software par excellence on my computer and I do "everything" with it, from controlling analog modular synthesizers, DSP (Digital Signal Processing), light control, live video, programming my own password generator, to calculating bible numbers (my "obsession" since the 90s).
The Musical Audio Research Station (ca. 1992 - 1999) by IRIS, Paliano, Italy. For me, the "computer musical instrument with characteristics of universality, independent of the process of technological development and the evolution of musical thought" (Di Giugno) ... Golden DSP times.
Some patches make my daily life easier in such a pleasant way that I offer them for download. To run the patches on the computer (Mac or Win), you will need (the free version of) "Max/MSP" by Cycling74.