How did disc jockeys come about?
Mid-1800s to 1910s: Development of Sound Recording Devices
In 1857, Leon Scott invented the phonoautographin France, the first device to record sound. In 1877, Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph cylinder, the first device to playback recorded sound, in the United States. In 1887 - German-American Emile Berliner invented the gramophone, a lateral disc device to record and playback sound. In 1889, coin-slot phonograph machines, the public's first encounter with recorded sound, begin to be mass-produced. The earliest versions played only a single record, but multiple record devices, called jukeboxes, were soon developed. In 1892, Emile Berliner began commercial production of his gramophone records, the first disc record to be offered to the public. From the mid-1890s to early 1920s, cylinder and disc recordings, and the machines to play them on, are widely mass marketed and sold. The disc system gradually becomes more popular due to its cheaper price and better marketing. In 1906, Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first audio radio broadcast in history when he plays Christmas music from Brant Rock, Massachusetts. In the 1910s, regular radio broadcasting begins, using "live" as well as prerecorded sound. In the early radio age, content typically includes comedy, drama, news, music, and sports reporting. The on-air announcers and programmers would later be known as disc jockeys. In the 1920s - "Juke-joints" became popular as a place for dancing and drinking to recorded jukebox music. In 1927, Christopher Stone became the first radio announcer and programmer in the United Kingdom, on the BBC radio station. In 1929, Thomas Edison ceased phonograph cylinder manufacture, ending the disc and cylinder rivalry.
1930s-1940s: The Birth of Disc Jockeys
In 1934, American commentator Walter Winchell coined the term "disc jockey" (the combination of "disc", referring to the disc records, and "jockey", which is an operator of a machine) as a description of radio announcer Martin Block, the first announcer to become a star. While his audience was awaiting developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping, Block played records and created the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom, with the nation's top dance bands performing live. The show, which he called Make Believe Ballroom, was an instant hit. In the 1940s, Musique concrète composers used portions of sound recordings to create new compositions. This is the first occurrence of sampling. In 1943, Jimmy Savile launched the world's first DJ dance party by playing jazz records in the upstairs function room of the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherd's in Otley, England. In 1947, he paid a local metalworker to weld two domestic record decks together and became the first DJ to use twin turntables for continuous play. In 1947 , the "Whiskey-A-Go-Go" nightclub opened in Paris, France, considered to be the world's first discothèque, or disco (deriving its name from the French word, meaning a nightclub where the featured entertainment is recorded music rather than an on-stage band). Discos began appearing across Europe and the United States. From the late 1940s to early 1950s, the introduction of television eroded the popularity of radio's early format, causing it to take on the general form it has today, with a strong focus on music, news and sports. 1950s In the 1950s - American radio DJs would appear live at "sock hops" and "platter parties" and assume the role of a human jukebox. They would usually play 45-rpm records featuring hit singles on one turntable, while talking between songs. In some cases, a live drummer was hired to play beats between songs to maintain the dance floor. 1955 - Bob Casey, a well-known "sock hop" DJ, introduces the first two-turntable system for alternating back and forth between records, creating a continuous playback of music. In the late 1950s - Jamaican sound systems, a new form of public entertainment, are developed in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. Promoters, who called themselves DJs, would throw large parties in the streets that centered on the disc jockey, called the "selector", who played dance music from large, loud PA systems and bantered over the music with a boastful, rhythmic chanting style called "toasting". These parties quickly became profitable for the promoters, who would sell admission, food and alcohol, leading to fierce competition between DJs for the biggest sound systems and newest records. 1960s
In the mid-1960s, nightclubs and discotheques continue to grow in Europe and the United States. However, by 1968, the number of dance clubs started to decline. In 1969, American club DJ Francis Grasso popularized beatmatching at New York's Sanctuary nightclub. Beatmatching is the technique of creating seamless transitions between back-to-back records with matching beats, or tempos. Grasso also developed slip-cueing, the technique of holding a record still while the turntable is revolving underneath, releasing it at the desired moment to create a sudden transition from the previous record. During the late 1960s - Most American clubs either closed or were transformed into clubs featuring live bands. Neighborhood block parties that are modeled after Jamaican sound systems gain popularity in Europe and in the boroughs of New York City. 1970s
During the early 1970s, the Vietnam War, oil crisis, and economic recession had a negative impact on dance clubs and disc jockeys. The total number of clubs and DJs dropped substantially, and most of the dance clubs that survived became underground gay discos. In 1973 - Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, widely regarded as the "godfather of hip hop culture", performed at block parties in his Bronx neighborhood and develops a technique of mixing back and forth between two identical records to extend the rhythmic instrumental segment, or break. Turntablism, the art of using turntables not only to play music, but to manipulate sound and create original music, began developing. In 1974 - Technics released the first SL-1200 turntable, which evolves into the SL-1200 MK2 in 1979, currently the industry standard for deejaying. In 1974, German electronic music band Kraftwerk released the 22-minute song "Autobahn", which takes up the entire first side of that LP. Years later, Kraftwerk would become a significant influence on hip hop artists such as Afrika Bambaataa and house music pioneer Frankie Knuckles. During the mid 1970s - Hip hop music and culture begins to emerge, originating among urban African Americans and Latinos in New York City. The four main elements of hip hop culture are MCing (rapping), DJing, graffiti, and breakdancing. In the mid-1970s, the soul-funk blend of dance pop known as Disco took off in the mainstream pop charts in the United States and Europe, causing discotheques to experience a rebirth. Unlike many late 1960s, clubs, which featured live bands, discotheques used the DJ's selection and mixing of records as the entertainment. In 1975 - Record pools begin, enabling disc jockeys access to newer music from the industry in an efficient method. In 1976, American DJ, editor, and producer Walter Gibbons remixes "Ten Percent" by Double Exposure, one of the earliest commercially released 12" singles (aka "maxi-single"). In 1977 - Hip hop DJ Grand Wizard Theodore invents the scratching technique by accident. In 1977 - New York's Studio 54 discotheque grosses $7 million in its first year of business (which is roughly $21 million in today's dollars after adjusting for inflation). In the same year, the motion picture Saturday Night Fever popularizes discotheques and becomes one of the top-10 grossing films in history (at the time). In 1979, the Sugar Hill Gang released "Rapper's Delight", the first hip hop record to become a hit. It was also the first real breakthrough for sampling, as the bassline of Chic's "Good Times" laid the foundation for the song. In 1979, an anti-disco protest in Chicago's Comiskey Park marks the major backlash against disco amongst rock music fans. This is considered by some to be the year that disco "died", although the music remained popular for several more years, particularly in underground clubs and in Europe, where the subgenres Euro Disco and Italo Disco emerged. 1980s
1981 - Cable television network MTV is launched, originally devoted to music videos, especially popular rock music. The term "video jockey", or VJ, was used to describe the fresh faced youth who introduced the music videos. In 1982, the demise of disco in the mainstream by the summer of 1982 forces many nightclubs to either close or to change entertainment styles, such as by providing MTV style video dancing or live bands. In 1982, the song "Planet Rock" by DJ Afrika Bambaataa is the first hip-hop song to feature synthesizers. The song melded electronic hip hop beats with the melody from Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express". In 1982, the compact disc reached the public market in Asia and early the following year in other markets. This event is often seen as the "Big Bang" of the digital audio revolution. In the early 1980s, the disco-influenced electronic style of dance music called House music emerged in Chicago. The name was derived from the Warehouse club in Chicago, where the resident DJ, Frankie Knuckles, mixed old disco classics and Eurosynth pop. House music is essentially disco music with electronic drum machine beats. The common element of most house music is a 4/4 beat generated by a drum machine or other electronic means (such as a sampler), together with a solid (usually also electronically generated) synth bassline. In 1983 - Jesse Saunders releases the first house music track, "On & On". In the mid-1980s - New York Garage emerges at DJ Larry Levan's Paradise Garage nightclub in New York. The style was a result of the club DJs who would unsuccessfully try to duplicate the Chicago house sound, for example, leaving out the accentuated high-hats. During the mid-1980s - Techno music emerges from the Detroit club scene. Being geographically located between Chicago and New York, Detroit techno combined elements of Chicago house and New York garage along with European imports. Techno distanced itself from disco's roots by becoming almost purely electronic with synthesized beats. In 1985, the Winter Music Conference starts in Fort Lauderdale Florida and becomes the premier electronic music conference for dance music disc jockeys. TRAX Dance Music Guide is launched by American Record Pool in Beverly Hills, the first national DJ-published music magazine; created on the Macintosh computer using extensive music market research and early desktop publishing tools. In 1986 - "Walk This Way", a rap-rock collaboration by Run DMC and Aerosmith, becomes the first hip-hop song to reach the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. This song is the first exposure of hip hop music, as well as the concept of the disc jockey as band member and artist, to many mainstream audiences. Late 1980s-1990s
In 1988, the acid house scene emerges in the UK. Originally called "acid parties" for a select few, the events grew in size and popularity, eventually spreading throughout England, Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world. During the early 1990s - The rave scene grows out of the acid-house scene. Many elements of the rave scene, such as baggy pants and break dancing, appear to be inherited from the Northern Soul scene of the UK approximately 15 years earlier. The notion of "trainspotting", for example, derives from Northern Soul's emphasis on researching and collecting rare & obscure records; while preventing other DJs from stealing titles via "white labels". The rave scene changed dance music, the image of DJs, and the nature of promoting. The innovative marketing surrounding the rave scene created the first superstar DJs who established marketable "brands" around their names and sound. Some of these celebrity DJs toured around the world and were able to branch out into other music-related activities. During the early 1990s - The compact disc surpasses the gramophone record in popularity, but gramophone records continue to be made (although in very limited quantities) into the 21st century, particularly for club DJs and for local acts recording on small regional labels. During the mid-1990s - Trance music, having run rampant in the German underground for several years, emerges as a major force in dance music throughout Europe and the UK. It is to become arguably the world's most dominant form of dance music by the end of the 1990s, thanks to a trend away from its repetitive, hypnotic roots, and towards commercialistic song structure. In 1991 - Mobile Beat first publishes becoming the first magazine specifically targeted at the professional mobile disc jockey. In 1992 - MPEG which stands for the Moving Picture Experts Group, releases The MPEG-1 standard, designed to produce reasonable sound at low bit rates. MPEG-1 Layer-3 popularly known as MP3 (a Lossy format) will revolutionize the digital music domain. In 1992 - Promo Only, a popular music service for disc jockeys is launched. In 1993 - The first Internet "radio station", Internet Talk Radio, was developed by Carl Malamud. Because the radio signal is relayed over the Internet, it is possible to access internet radio stations from anywhere in the world. This makes it a popular service for both amateur and professional disc jockeys operating from a personal computer. In 1995, the first full-time, Internet-only radio station, Radio HK, begins broadcasting the music of independent bands. In 1995 - ProDJ.Com launched by ProDJ Publishing. In 1996 - Mobile Beat has its first national mobile DJ convention in Las Vegas. During the late 1990s - Nu metal bands such as KoЯn, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park reach the height of popularity. This new subgenre of alternative rock bears some influence from hip-hop, because rhythmic innovation and syncopation are primary, often featuring DJs as band members. As well, during the late 1990s, various DJ and VJ software programs are developed, allowing personal computer users to deejay or veejay using his or her personal music or video files. In 1998, the first MP3 digital audio player is released, the Eiger Labs MPMan F10. In 1999, Shawn Fanning releases Napster, the first of the massively popular peer-to-peer file sharing systems. During this period, the AVLA (Audio Video Licensing Agency) of Canada announces MP3 DJing license, administered by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. This meant that DJs could apply for a license giving them the right to "burn" their own compilation CDs of "usable tracks", instead of having to cart their whole CD collections around to their gigs. 2000s
In 2001, Apple Computer's iPod is introduced and quickly becomes the highest selling brand of portable digital mp3 audio player. The convenience and popularity of the iPod spawns a new type of DJ, the self-penned "MP3J". First appearing in certain East London clubs, and spreading to other music scenes, including New York City, this new DJ scene allows the average music fan to bring two iPods to an "iPod Night", plug in to the mixer, and program a play list without the skill and equipment demanded by a more traditional DJ setup, and without needing to bring a heavy case of CDs. In 2006, the concept of DJ had its 100 year anniversary. In 2006, Mobile Beat Magazine and ProDJ.Com merged, creating a new resource for mobile disc jockeys. http://www.answers.com/topic/disc-jockey?cat=biz-fin