Juan Atkins

At the dawn of the 1980s, Juan Atkins began recording what stands as perhaps the most influential body of work in the field of techno. Exploring his vision of a futuristic music which welded the more cosmic side of Parliament funk with rigid computer synth pop embodied by Kraftwerk and the techno-futurist possibilities described by sociologist Alvin Toffler (author of The Third Wave and Future Shock), Atkins blurred his name behind aliases such as Cybotron, Model 500, and Infiniti -- all, except for Cybotron, comprised solely of himself -- to release many classics of sublime Detroit techno. And though it's often difficult (and misleading) to pick the precise genesis for any style of music, the easiest choice for techno is an Atkins release, the 1982 electro track "Clear," recorded by Atkins and Rick Davis as Cybotron. He soon left the progressively album-oriented Cybotron to begin working alone, and released his most seminal material from 1985 to 1989 as Model 500. And while fellow Detroit legends Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May were known for their erratic output during the following decade, Atkins recorded much more during the '90s than he had during the '80s, soaking up new rhythmic elements from contemporary dance music but keeping his unerring, instantly recognizable sense of melody intact throughout. As the electronic scene began looking back to the past to find musical innovators, Atkins was a name much-discussed and -anthologized, hailed as the godfather of techno.