The twentieth century was a time of great scientific, political, and cultural change. Throughout the world, traditions were being broken and new ways of thinking emerged. In the field of science and technology, it was the thought that the atom, the smallest possible particle, could be split. In the world of politics it was the Bolshevik revolution and the radical ideals of communism. Culturally, artists broke away from the traditional way of painting and developed new genres such as cubism, expressionism, and surrealism. Music in the twentieth century was not immune from this departure from tradition. The disc jockey, or DJ, is one of the many tradition breaking musicians of the twentieth century. Once considered no more than a human jukebox, DJ s have evolved into actual musicians who have ushered in new genres of music all by themselves. .
The history of the disc jockey actually begins in the nineteenth century when Thomas Edison invents the phonograph, the precursor to the record player. Before then, the only way to enjoy music is by going to a live performance or making it yourself. With the phonograph, people could now listen to their favorite music from the comfort of their homes. Reginald Fessenden is considered to be the first DJ when he begins to broadcast Christmas music throughout the Boston area in 1906 (Wegner). In Great Britain, a man by the name of Jimmy Savile began to play jazz records in the upstairs room of a meeting hall and thus created the first dance club in 1943 (Wegner). This is significant because dance clubs would become the concert hall of the DJ. Shortly after World War II, dance clubs called discotheques began to pop up throughout Europe (Wegner). The term disc jockey, however, was not used until the mid 1950s. It was then disc jockeys came to be known as professionals on the radio who played records and talked between songs (Frick). A significant moment in DJ history came in 1955 when DJ Bob Casey introduced the first two-turntable system (Wegner).