The SoundFont file format was first introduced for use with the Sound Blaster AWE32. It enabled the loading of PCM sample data on the sound card for improved MIDI sound playback.
SoundFont 1.0, released in the early 1990's, had a file extension of .SBK or .SB2. In 1996, SoundFont version 2.0 was created and made a public specification. It uses the .SF2 file extension. 2.01 added additional MIDI control in 1998 and 2.04 added 24-bit sample support in 2005.
It is now a commonly-supported format for sampler software and soundfont sample CDs (or downloads) are readily available.