Saams was established in 1981 when Dr Louis van Dyk from the Plant Protection Research Institute, who had had GC-MS facilities for nearly three years, thought it necessary to form a group which could address operational problems of the mass spectrometry users. At that stage an active Chromatography Discussion Group existed, under the guidance of the late Prof. Victor Pretorius but there was nothing for the mass spectrometrists.
During these years MS was confined to special groups of, as Dr van Dyk puts it, " priests worshipping at the high altar of MS-technology" and the instruments were not exactly user-friendly, with the computers taking up as much space as the MS itself.
People involved in organic MS were contacted for an inaugural meeting at the Coal Research Institute of the CSIR to be held in June 1981. Dr Willie van Niekerk ,of the then Atomic Energy Board, got to hear about the proposed meeting and contacted Dr van Dyk requesting that all mass spectrometrists be invited since there were so few experts in South Africa.
The meeting took place in the form of a mini-symposium at which a number of papers were presented. At the end of the symposium it was decided to form a professional society and after much debating, the name SAAMS, suggested by Dr Zeno Apostolodies , was adopted since the same acronym could be used, both in English and in Afrikaans.
Dr Willie van Niekerk was elected the first chairman and Dr van Dyk was elected secretary/treasurer. About 20 people attended the initial inaugural meeting and almost immediately afterwards, "crowds" of up to 50 people where attending one day symposiums and workshops.
From the start it was felt that it would be useful to affiliate with the South Africa Chemical Institute and the association, together with the Chromatography group became the first subject sections of SACI.
In 1984, Dr Laurraine Lotter took over as chairman and SAAMS has continued to grow to a current membership of 250 members.