PT did have MIDI capabilities way before PT8. But those MIDI capabilities (especially sequencing-related) were famously incredibly mediocre. It was laughable. At least, compared to Logic and Digital Performer.
Indeed it was since around version 8 that Digidesign began to pay attention to MIDI-related features in general (including adding VIs, like brandonamatias points out.)
PT forte had always been audio editing. But nowadays all major DAWs are pretty capable in all regards.