The first electronic devices for performing music were developed at the end of the 19th century, and shortly afterward Italian Futurists explored sounds that had previously not been considered musical. During the 1920s and 1930s, electronic instruments were introduced and the first compositions for electronic instruments were composed. By the 1940s, magnetic audio tape allowed musicians to tape sounds and then modify them by changing the tape speed or direction, leading to the development of electroacoustictape music in the 1940s, in Egypt and France. Musique concrète, created in Paris in 1948, was based on editing together recorded fragments of natural and industrial sounds. Music produced solely from electronic generators was first produced in Germany in 1953. Electronic music was also created in Japan and the United States beginning in the 1950s. An important new development was the advent of computers for the purpose of composing music. Algorithmic composition was first demonstrated in Australia in 1951.
The album was a commercial success, reaching number 2 in the United Kingdom and selling over a million copies worldwide. By the year 2000 Electronic had sold 240,000 copies in the USA.
The bulk of Electronic was written in 1990, with sessions beginning that January at Johnny Marr's home studio in Manchester. "Gangster" dated from an aborted solo album Bernard Sumner began work on in the mid-eighties, while "Reality" was written around 1988 when he and Marr first began working together. "The Patience of a Saint" also predated the album, having been written with Pet Shop Boys soon after their collaboration with their singer Neil Tennant on "Getting Away with It" in 1989.
Several other songs were also completed by August 1990 (namely "Idiot Country", "Tighten Up", "Soviet", "Get the Message" and "Try All You Want") as they were performed live at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles when Electronic supported Depeche Mode (although "Try All You Want" was played as an instrumental and several songs had working titles).