Kraftwerk started as Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben, who had met studying classical music at the Dusseldorf Conservatory, in 1970. Together they founded Kling-Klang Studios After leaving Organisation, Hütter and Schneider took the name Kraftwerk (“power plant”) and began experimenting with integrating mechanized sounds from everyday life into music. Following numerous lineup changes, the pair added Klaus Roeder and Wolfgang Flür.
In 1974 the group released Autobahn, which found immediate success in the U.S, and peaked Number 5 on Billboard’s Top 200. The title track was a 22-minute minimalist title track about a journey along the famed German–Austrian superhighway. Kraftwerk’s next two LPs also followed suit with a conceptual theme. In 1975, they released Radio-Activity where the main theme was Nuclear Energy and the radio. In 1977, the used the train as their point of focus in Trans-Europe Express. The Man Machine and Computer World (1978 & 1981) were more mainstream and accessible to the masses. At this point of the era, electronic music was gaining speed and showing up in different genres. (Abel, Abel & et al, 2001)
David Bowie and Brian Eno worked together to make the Berlin Trilogy albums. They attributed the influence for the albums to Kraftwerk and the emerging wonder of Kraut rock and the German Electronic music scene. Kraftwerk’s musical style and image can be heard and seen in later electronic music successes such as Gary Numan, Human League, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell, to name a few. Kraftwerk would also go on to influence other forms of music, most notably, Trans Europe Express and Numbers were sampled into Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force. Kraftwerk also inspired many acts from other styles and genres. New Order was heavily influenced by the band. New Order would sample Uranium in their 1983 songs Blue Monday and The Beach. U2 recorded a cover version of Neon Lights, and also performed some Kraftwerk songs as snippets during live shows.