An Electronic Dance Music Timeline

Milestones in the early days of disco, hip-hop, electro, techno, and house (a work in progress).

New York City

1965 Herb Kent opens teen club Time Square with dual turntables, fog machine, and strobe lights
1967 Francis Grasso begins spinning at Salvation II; first NY club DJ to slip-cue and beatmatch
1970 DJ Kool Herc

First David Mancuso Loft party in NYC

Pete DJ Jones and DJ Kool Herc (right) start spinning breaks at clubs and block parties, respectively

1971 Bozak audio mixer commercially available
1973 DJ Hollywood starts rapping in NYC clubs

Dugan’s Bistro opens; Robert Williams and friends throw first US Studio parties

1974 Grandmaster Flash

Tom Moulton creates his first extended mix; DJ-only promo pressings begin

Grandmaster Flash (right) invents cutting

Disco-Chicago record pool starts

1976 Grand Wizard Theodore invents scratching

First electronic disco albums: Cerrone: Love In C Minor LP (Malligator), Cloud One: Atmosphere Strut LP (P&P Records)

Double Exposure: “Ten Percent” 12″ (Salsoul Records) first commercially released 12-inch single; edited by Walter Gibbons

US Studio opens the Warehouse (where Frankie Knuckles’ career will be launched)

1977 Giorgio Moroder

Larry Levan starts spinning at the Paradise Garage

Donna Summer: I Feel Love 12″ (Casablanca Records) electronic disco hit produced by Giorgio Moroder (right)

The Electrifying Mojo starts spinning an eclectic mix of funk and New Wave on Detroit radio WGPR

1978 Herb Kent moves to WXFM, starts show that becomes “Punk Out,” playing New Wave for a mostly Black Chicago audience
1979 First rap records: Paulett and Tanya Winley: “Rhymin’ and Rappin’” (Paul Winley Records), Fatback: “King Tim III Personality Jock” (Spring); first big hit Sugarhill Gang: “Rappers Delight” (Sugarhill Records)

WDAI, Chicago starts playing “hot mixes”

1980 Roland TR-808 drum machine introduced
1981 Kraftwerk: Computer World LP (EMI) inspires electro

Detroit electro records: A Number Of Names: “Sharevari” 12″ (Capriccio), Cybotron: “Alleys Of Your Mind” 45 (Deep Space Records)

The Hot Mix 5 start spinning on WBMX, Chicago

First releases on Wax Trax! Records

1982 Frankie Knuckles

Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force: “Planet Rock” 12″ (Tommy Boy) NYC electro

Roland TB-303 synthesizer introduced

Frankie Knuckles (right) opens The Power Plant in December

1983 Knuckles starts playing Jamie Principle house tracks off tape, Farley Keith begins “Funkin with the Drums”

Robert Williams opens The Music Box where Ron Hardy spins

Medusa’s opens

1984 First house records: Jesse Saunders: “On And On” 12″ (Jes Say Records), Z Factor: “Fantasy” (Mitchbal Records)
1985 Juan Atkins

D.J. International founded; Precision becomes Trax Records

Chip E. releases Jack Trax, Mr. Fingers (Larry Heard) releases “Mystery of Love”

Juan Atkins (right) starts Metroplex

Ron Hardy plays Phuture’s “Acid Tracks”

1986 First acid release: Sleezy D.: “I’ve Lost Control” 12″ (Trax Records)

Derrick May starts Transmat

1987 Kevin Saunderson starts KMS

Anti-juice bar ordinance shuts down Chicagog’s after-hours clubs

1988 808 State: Newbuild LP (Creed) acid house leaps the pond

Techno! The New Dance Sound Of Detroit 2-LP (Ten Records) compilation introduces Europe to techno

The Music Institute opens

1989 Carl Craig’s first releases as Psyche

Black Dog Productions label founded in the UK

1991 Jeff Mills, Mike Banks, and Robert Hood form Underground Resistance

Early IDM


  • Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, Grove Press, NY, 2000
  • Various: Kurtis Blow presents The History of Rap Vol. 1, Rhino, 1997, liner notes
  • The Rap Records by Freddy Fresh, Nerby Publishing, Minnesota, 2004
  • Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk by Dan Sicko, Billboard Books, NY, 1999
  • The Cool Gent: The Nine Lives of Radio Legend Herb Kent by Herb Kent and David Smallwood, Chicago Review Press, 2009
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