Introduced in 1980, the Roland TR-808 was one of the first programmable drum machines. Like its predecessors, it sounded nothing at all like a real drum kit, but as its kick drum produced a very deep sounding amount of sub-bass, it became very popular within electronic music. It did not have MIDI, unlike its follow up, the TR-909.
The TR-808 also was the inspiration for the name of the British electronic outfit 808 State. The sounds of the TR-808 were and still are very often used in Hip-Hop, R&B, House, Electro and many forms of electronic dance music. The TR-808 is also a stalwart instrument of artists such as The SOS Band and Phil Collins; it can be heard on many of the ex-Genesis star's solo material, notably the ballads "In The Air Tonight", "One More Night" and "That's Just The Way It Is".
One of the earliest introduction of TR-808 on a live performance was that of YMO or Yellow Magic Orchestra in December 1980, in a song "1000 Knives", composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, in 1978. The outstanding Hand Clap sound was later publicized by YMO's innovative album "BGM" released in March 1981 in Japan, in "1000 Knives" as well as in another Sakamoto's song "Music Plans".