The real-time nature of the JamMan system, as it exists today, first appeared in a modified Lexicon PCM42 that I developed for a guy named Christian Rover several years ago. I had originally modified his PCM42 for 80 seconds of delay but he found that it wasn't terribly useful because of the synchronization problems. Christian and I worked out a user interface that allowed the size of an audio loop to be defined and modified in real time, I designed the hardware to implement it and the first real time looping system in the world was born.
Not too much happened with the concept for a couple of years until I told my friend and coworker Joe Waltz about the concept. Joe was extremely enthusiastic about the concept and suggested proposing it to Lexicon for a new product. We worked up an advanced feature set and wrote a formal proposal which we presented to Lexicon management. They liked the idea but didn't feel that they had the engineering resources available to develop it. Thanks, but no thanks.
Believing that I could sell the system in the form of a modification for the PCM42, I began working on a full blown version of the "MutMax" system as it had now become known. The new system included most of the stuff that Christian had asked for, but included some new and intriguing features including: (drum roll please) MIDI. By November of "92" I had a PCM42 transformed into a "MutMax" supporting multiple loops, generating MIDI clocks and taking commands via MIDI.
I brought the prototype system into work to show it to some of the people there including my boss. He was so impressed that he suggested that we show it to Ron Noonan, the CEO of Lexicon. Ron came down to check it out and was knocked out. He loved it. He asked me to organize a formal demonstration of the system for the engineering staff, the marketing staff and Lexicon management. The demonstration was an overwhelming success and plans were drawn up to implement the concept in a hardware platform similar to the Lexicon Alex product. The core of a development team was assembled and the project was launched. Nine months later "MutMax" (renamed "JamMan") was in full blown production and drawing rave reviews from anyone who touched it.
Unfortunately, due to sales below projections, Lexicon discontinued the product a few years later. Since then, the JamMan has become something of a cult item and are highly sought after around the world.
Like most great "inventions", the JamMan was really the work of a team: Joe Waltz, Steve DeFuria, Wayne Hall, Will Eggleston, me (Bob Sellon) and many others who shaped the concept into the JamMan. Much of the credit for general layout of the product user interface goes to Steve DeFuria who's influence cannot be understated. My main role was to keep the ideas evolving and not resting till it actually worked.
It should also be noted that the Lexicon PCM42 which got all this started, was the brain child of Gary Hall who had the forethought to design the capability for larger memory into the PCM42. Gary also designed the trigger circuits that were the forerunners to the looping functionality in the PCM42.
Background image by Pauline Moss. at http://paulinemoss.deviantart.com/art/Stars-307119758