What was unique about Linn the inventor of the LinnDrum?

In the world of music technology and electronic instruments, certain individuals stand out as visionary innovators who have significantly shaped the course of music history. Roger Linn, the inventor of the LinnDrum and a pioneer in electronic drum machines, is undoubtedly one of these trailblazers. In this article, we will explore what was unique about Roger Linn and his contributions to the world of music technology.

Roger Linn: The Man Behind the Machine

Roger Linn, born in 1954, is an American designer, engineer, and musician who has had a profound impact on the music industry. What sets him apart is his unique combination of talents, including a deep understanding of music theory, a passion for technology, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in electronic music instruments.

  1. A Musician’s Perspective: Unlike many inventors in the field of music technology, Roger Linn began as a musician. He played guitar and was well-versed in music theory, which gave him a unique perspective when it came to designing electronic instruments. He understood the needs and creative aspirations of musicians, and this perspective guided his innovations.
  2. The LM-1 Drum Computer: Roger Linn’s first groundbreaking invention was the Linn LM-1 Drum Computer, introduced in 1980. It was the world’s first drum machine to use digital samples of real drums, a revolutionary concept at the time. This innovation allowed musicians to produce drum sounds with a level of realism and expressiveness that was previously unattainable.
  3. Humanizing Drum Machines: Roger Linn’s approach to drum machines was to make them feel more human. He introduced features like velocity sensitivity, which allowed the LM-1 and later the LinnDrum to respond to the dynamics of a drummer’s performance. This “humanizing” of drum machines added a level of realism and groove that transformed music production.
  4. MIDI Integration: Roger Linn was an early advocate for the inclusion of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) in electronic instruments. His belief in the power of MIDI led to the incorporation of MIDI connectivity in his drum machines, enabling seamless synchronization with other MIDI-enabled gear. This laid the foundation for the interconnected music technology we see today.
  5. Iconic Drum Machines: Roger Linn’s creations, including the Linn LM-1 and the LinnDrum LM-2, became iconic in their own right. The distinctive sound and features of these drum machines left an indelible mark on music, with their sounds featured prominently in countless hit songs.
  6. Continual Innovation: Throughout his career, Roger Linn has continued to innovate. His later creations, such as the AdrenaLinn series of guitar processors and the LinnStrument MIDI controller, demonstrate his commitment to pushing the boundaries of music technology.


Roger Linn’s unique combination of musicality, technical expertise, and innovative spirit has made him a legendary figure in the world of music technology. His inventions, including the Linn LM-1 and the LinnDrum, revolutionized music production and had a profound influence on the way musicians create and perform music. Roger Linn’s legacy continues to inspire musicians, producers, and inventors to explore new frontiers in music technology, making him a true pioneer in the field.

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