Ableton was founded in 1999 by Gerhard Behles, Robert Henke of Monolake and Bernd Roggendorf. After Behles' work on granular synthesis features for Native Instruments' Reaktor, as well as earlier software using a Silicon Graphics workstation at the Technical University of Berlin, Live was first released as commercial software in 2001. Behles remains the chief executive officer of Ableton. Ableton's office is located in the Mitte district of Berlin, Germany with a second office in Pasadena, California.
In March 2007, Ableton announced it was beginning a collaboration with Cycling '74, producers of Max/MSP. This collaboration is not directly based on Live or Max/MSP, but rather combines the two companies' strengths in a new product.
In January 2009 the Ableton/Cycling '74 product "Max for Live" was announced. "Max for Live" makes it possible to create Max/MSP patches directly inside of Live. The patches act like other plug-ins in Live do, supporting preset saving, automation, and other features. It is possible to create both customized hardware plug-ins and patches as well as actions within those plug-ins that control every aspect of Live, essentially anything that can be clicked with a mouse.
Ableton Live is currently in its ninth version. There are three versions of the software available for purchase: Live 9 Standard (the core software for music performance and creation), Live 9 Suite (Ableton Live, Max for Live + all of Ableton's software instruments/effects) and Live 9 Intro (an introductory version of Live with fewer track and effect slots). Ableton Live is designed to be used with a wide range of USB and MIDI controllers, as well as instruments and virtual instruments.
They constructed the Push controller for Live 9 in cooperation with Akai. It gives access to every element within the Digital audio workstation from this one unit, playing notes on a device or instrument, sequencing melodic notes and parameters, and triggering clips.