A brief History of Electronic Music from 1876 – 1989. Focusing on Classic Hits and Albums. There is also a clear focus on Classic Synthesizers and Electronic Music Innovation from The Music Telegraph to the Cubase Software Sequencer.

1876 – Elisha Gray by accident creates a single note Oscillator and discovers it creates a Humming Sound. He named this electronic Instrument as The Musical Telegraph.

the music telegraph

The Music Telegraph

1897 – Thaddeus Cahi a 20th Century Inventor creates Teleharmonium. A very large version of what would become the Hammond Organ.

1920 – The Theremin was invented by Lev Sergeevich Termen.

1929 – RCA Released the Thereminvox the first commercial Theremin.

1930 – Leon Theremin released the Rhythmicon a machine capable of playing simple Rhythms. A very early predecessor to The Drum Machine.

1934 – The Hammond Organ makes its debut as a Commercial Musical Product.

1954 – The Wurlitzer electric piano was launched a String less Instrument.

1957 – The RCA Mark II Sound Synthesizer developed at Columbia University; it was the first to be programmable.

1959 – Harold Bode started developing a Modular Synthesizer, which included multiple Oscillators and Filters.

The Wurlitzer Sideman Drum Machine launched to commercial success.

1961 – Bob Moog took Harold Bodes technology and developed the Iconic Moog Synth, which was the first to have a variable Voltage Controller.


The Minimoog

1963 – Delia Derbyshire of The BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop using Ron Grains Music Score created the Iconic Dr Who Theme. She was sampling recorded Sounds recorded on Analogue Tape.

1968 – Wendy Carlos the Classical Pianist released the Album Switched-On-Bach. This was the first big selling Electronic Music Album. Most notably wrote on a Moog.

1970 – Kraftwerk Form. Releasing their self titled LP Kraftwerk. The Moog now had become Portable with the development of the Minimoog Model D

1971 – Chicory Tip’s Son Of My Father Single Tops the Charts across Europe this was the first Electronic Led Hit. The Synthesizer had become the Main Instrument.

1972 – The Arp Odyssey was launched, a popular competitor to the Minimoog.

Eko released The ComputeRhythm, the first programmable Drum Machine.

The first Digital Sampler the Computer Music Melodian was released.

1973 – Pink Floyd release the Progressive Rock Album Dark Side Of The Moon. An Electronic Fuelled album with Analogue Synthesizers and Tape Effects selling 50 Million Copies.

kraftwerk authobahn

Kraftwerk Autobahn

1974 – Kraftwerk releases the Electronic Album Autobahn, which also had pure Electronic Percussion. The Single Autobahn becomes a Hit across the Globe.

1975 – The Moog Polymoog was Released.

1976 – Jean Michelle Jarre releases the pioneering Album Oxygen.

1977 – Giorgio Moroder releases the Hit Electronic single “From Here To Eternity”
David Bowie released the Low Album, which was his first to heavily experiment with Electronic Instruments. Donna Summer releases the first Electronic Dance Hit, I Feel Love.

Throbbing Gristle release the first Industrial Album entitled The 2nd Annual Report.

1978 – The Human League forms in Sheffield, UK. They were one of the first Synthpop Bands in the World.

Ultravox! Led by the singer John Foxx released Systems Of Romance and album rich with Synthesizers and Electronic Effects.

Roland release the CR-78 Drum Machine

The first New Romantic Band Visage form. Members include the DJ/Drummer Rusty Egan, Steve Strange and Midge Ure of The Rich Kids.

Cabaret Voltaire releases the Extended Play EP.

Mute Records is launched by Daniel Miller

The Singer Gary Numan then went solo and released The Futurist Electronic The Pleasure Principle Tops The Charts along with the Single Cars. Gary Numan had become the Worlds First Popular Music Synth Star The Polymoog became his trademark sound.

The Fairlight CMI was Born with a Wave Editor this was a feature rich Sampling Synth with a Wave Editor.

Throbbing Gristle release the first full Industrial Album 20 Jazz Greats

Ryuichi Sakamoto releases the song Riot In Lagos one of the first Electro tracks

THE SOUND OF THE FUTURE VOLUME 3 by The Thin Wall on Mixcloud

1980 – Visage releases the International Synthpop/ New Romantic Hit Fade To Grey.

John Foxx releases the Futuristic Minimal Electro album Metamatic. In addition, the Hit Single Underpass.

Gary Numan Cars makes the Billboard Charts in the USA

Gary Numan releases Telekon.

The Lin LM1 Drum Machine is released. The first drum machine, which used Digital Samples

Depeche Mode form in Basildon.

The Roland TR -808 Drum Machine is released.

Wax Trax Records is formed.

1981 – Soft Cell Released Non-Stop Electronic Cabaret

The Human League with a New Line up Top the Charts with their album Dare making Synthpop Popular Music in the UK

The PPG Wav a Digital Wave Table Synthesizer was released

Depeche Mode release the Speak And Spell album.

Ultravox release the Electronic Ballad Vienna as a Single to huge International acclaim. Deprived of the No.1 UK Chart Placing by an inferior Novelty Hit.

Front 242 the Belgian Electro Body Music (EBM) Band form.

Some Bizzare Records is formed by Stevo Pearce. The Some Bizzare Album Compilation is released containing tracks by Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, and Blancmange.

1982 – The E-mu Emulator Sampling Synthesizer is released

Afrika Bambatta releases the Electro classic Planet Rock.

Factory Records opens The Hacienda Club in Manchester, England.

Vince Clarke forms Yazoo

1983 – New Order release the classic Electro Single Blue Monday.

MIDI Became standardized allowing Drum Machines and Midi Capable Synthesizers to synchronize with each other.

The Yamaha DX7 Synthesizer is released.

1984 – Devo release Shout an album, which featured heavy use of the Fairlight CMI.

1985 – Paul Hardcastle releases the single 19 a track, which featured multiple digital samples.

The Stone Roses hold the first Rave in Manchester, UK

The Atari ST is launched with a Midi Input and Sequencer Software.

1986 – Pet Shop Boys release their first Studio Album called Please.

1987 – Nitzer Ebb release the Album That Total Age

1988 – Britain’s Summer of Love. Raves appeared across Britain. Electronic Music had become Mainstream British Culture. Experimental Electronic Bands who created Electro Body Music [EBM} we’re now mainstream.

1989 – Cubase the Software Sequencer was launched as Atari ST Software.

Nine Inch Nails release their Debut Album Pretty Hate Machine