In 1978, Roger Linn, a self-described "starving musician," started to develop one of the first programmable drum machines, the Linn LM-1, for his home studio. He "wanted a drum machine that did more than play preset samba patterns and didn't sound like crickets." Linn, having "taken a couple of classes on how to write computer programs in BASIC and assembly code,...sent away to Roland for a voice generator from one of their existing analog-synthesis drum machines, hooked it up to [his] computer, and wrote a program that displayed a grid on the computer screen showing time versus drum events." "It eventually evolved to include chaining of patterns into a song." According to Linn, "Steve Pocaro [keyboardist for Toto] may have been the first one who suggested [he use] sampling". Linn used the 8-bit ComDAC(companding digital-to-analog converter) to playback his samples. In 1980 he debuted his first commercial drum machine, the LM-1.
"Since Linn Electronics closed its doors in early '86, [Roger Linn] has consulted for Akai and helped design products such as the [Akai] MPC60 sampling and sequencing drum system and the [Akai] ASQ10 sequencer."
[excerpted with permission from the book Vintage Synthesizers by Mark Vail, copyright Miller Freeman, Inc]