Founded in 1999 by Gerhard Behles, Robert Henke and Berndd Roggendorf, Berlin-based Ableton grew out of Behles' work on granular synthesis that he had started on while at the Technical University of Berlin, and the work he had done for Native Instruments Reaktor software. At the same time, Henke was developing custom software for Monolake, the electronic music group he and Behles had been performing in since the mid-'90s. Stepping beyond the traditional ideas of separate performance and recording software, the company released Ableton Live, a full-fledged, performance-based DAW, in 2001.
Ableton has continued to ride the leading edge of DAW development, collaborating with Cycling '74, creators of the Max/MSP audio development and programming language, to bring scriptable patches directly to Live. Max for Live, available in the Ableton Suite version of Live, provides greatly expanded automation, interaction with plug-ins and patches and control over virtually anything that can be done within Live. Max for Live can also create completely custom plug-ins and patches, making Live an excellent tool for experimental musicians and those who feel constrained by traditional approaches to music creation.
Behles and Henke both remain performing musicians, releasing new electronic music, with Henke, in particular, continuing to perform and record as Monolake, as well as under his own name and as Torsten Pröfrock. Henke has also developed a custom controller called Monodeck for use with Live and Max/MSP.