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Charts

Before 1969 there was no official singles chart.

Record Retailer and the BBC commissioned the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) to compile charts, beginning 15 February 1969.

The BMRB compiled its first chart from postal returns of sales logs from 250 record shops.

The sampling cost approximately £52,000; shops were randomly chosen from a pool of approximately 6,000, and submitted figures for sales taken up to the close of trade on Saturday.

The sales diaries were translated into punch cards so the data could be interpreted by a computer. A computer then compiled the chart on Monday, and the BBC were informed of the Top 50 on Tuesday in time for it to be announced on Johnnie Walker’s afternoon show.

The charts were also published in Record Retailer (rebranded Record & Tape Retailer in 1971 and Music Week in 1972)  and Record Mirror.

However, the BMRB often struggled to have the full sample of sales figures returned by post. The 1971 postal strike meant data had to be collected by telephone, but this was deemed inadequate for a national chart; by 1973, the BMRB was using motorcycle couriersto collect sales figures.

In May 1978, the singles chart was expanded from a Top 50 to a Top 75. A World in Action documentary exposé in 1980 revealed corruption within the industry; stores’ chart-returns dealers would frequently be offered bribes to falsify sales logs.

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