The history of the Official Charts

The heritage represented by the Official Charts began with the creation of the UK's first singles chart in November 1952.

The story of the UK’s Official Charts began back in November 1952, when the then publisher of the New Music Express Percy Dickins decided that he needed some method to encourage advertisers to his new music paper.

Dickins compiled the very first charts by phoning around to a handful of his retailer friends, totting up the number of copies sold of their biggest sellers to create an aggregated chart. Thus, the first UK Singles Chart was born – with Al Martino’s Here In My Heart at Number 1.

Over the following seven decades (from the Fifties to the Teens), the UK charts have seen a dramatic number of changes – reflecting the changing face of the entertainment industry.

Click through the following decade-by-decade review, which summarises these changes over the many years.

The Fifties: the UK's first singles chart, Al Martino, Bill Haley and Elvis Presley. Click for more

The Sixties: The Beatles began to rule, Engelbert scored a million twice in a year and the charts became "Official" for the first time. Click for more.

The Seventies: The decade of punk, disco, 8-tracks and cassettes. Click for more.

The Eighties: Compact Discs arrived, along with Band Aid, Madonna, U2 and Gallup. Click for more. 

The Nineties: Bryan Adams, Wet Wet Wet and Whitney heralded the decade of the marathon Number 1 and Elton John's biggest single of all time. Gallup handed over chart compilation to Millward Brown (now named Kantar). Click for more.

The Noughties: Downloads transformed music, Pop Idol and X-Factor arrived, and the public protested via the Official Singles Chart. Click for more. 

The Teens: Music streaming arrived on the charts, as Adele, Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran and Rihanna ruled the charts. Click for more.

The Twenties: Streaming begins to dominate music consumption, Kate Bush and Taylor Swift break records, the UK sees its first centenarians at Number 1, ABBA make their comeback, and the Official Singles Chart turns 70. Click for more.