Historical Milestones
a brief history on the ESC from 1956 until 2005

1955 – a brilliant idea
Inspired by the popular Italian San Remo Festival, the idea for the ESC was born during a meeting in Monaco in 1955 and adopted in Rome shortly after.
The event was to be held for the first time the following year in Lugano, Switzerland; it was entitled "The Eurovision Grand Prix", a name thought up by a British journalist.
 
1956
Seven countries entered the contest 
Each participant was allowed to submit two songs in the language they wanted. The only restriction: the performance was limited to 3½ minutes. 
The winner was chosen by a jury consisting of two delegates from each country who could award between 1 and 10 points.
» AND THE WINNER IS: Lys Assia (Switzerland) with her song "Refrain".
 
1957
The whole ESC moved to West Germany, the new hosting country. (N.B. the rule that determines that the winner's home country will be hosting the next contest did not exist then!)
New rule: Everyone was allowed one song only! AND: The scoreboard entered the scene!
» Top of the list was the name of Corrie Brokkens (Netherlands) with "Net als toen".
 
1958
Ok, here we go now: the winning country will be hosting the next ESC from now on! (Generally speaking, anyway – some countries did make exceptions once in a while.)
» And this was France's big day! André Claveau won the trophy with "Dors, mon amour".
 
1959
» The fourth ESC, and the second victory for the Netherlands: This time it was Teddy Scholten doing the trick with "Een beetje".
 
1960
» Congratulations, France: "Tom Pillibi", performed by Jacqueline Boyer, doesn't only leave her ESC competitors behind, she also really cleaned up internationally.
 
1961
By now, there are 16 songsters competing in the ESC.
» But only Luxembourg can shine with Jean-Claude Pascal and his song "Nous, les amoureux".
 
1962
A new scoring system is introduced. Now the winner can obtain a maximum of 60 points.
» Result: Belgium, Spain, Austria and the Netherlands are left empty-handed; Isabelle Aubret from France makes it to the top with 26 points.
 
1963
» Two international stars, Nana Mouskouri (for Luxembourg) and Françoise Hardy (for Monaco) enter the race but only reach the 7th and 5th places respectively as Grethe and Jorgen Ingmann from Denmark win with "Dansevise".
 
1964
And to keep everyone on their toes the voting system is changed again (now each jury can only award 9 points). 
Udo Jürgens (for Austria) makes his debut at the ESC and doesn't let his 5th place put him off - he's taking part again the following year.
» In the year of his debut, however, he could only congratulate Gigliola Cinquetti from Italy for her song "Non ho l'età".
 
1965
Udo Jürgens can work his way up one place. Wouldn't it be ridiculous if there wasn't more to it?!
» Not this year, anyway: Luxembourg wins. Thanks to France Gall with her song "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" by Serge Gainsbourg.
 
1966
From now on, all contestants must sing their song in their own language!
» There was more in it for Austria, and – as if he'd known it: Udo Jürgens had laid his "thank you" out ready – "Merci, chérie"!
 
1967
» The moment of ESC-glory had come for the UK: Sandie Shaw sang her way into the hearts of the jury with "Puppet on a string". This was something Switzerland unfortunately didn't manage – 0 points!
 
1968
» Massiel from Spain makes it onto the medallists' podium with "La, la, la" – beating Cliff Richard's "Congratulations".
 
1969
» This would no longer be possible now: 4 out of the 16 countries shared the Grand Prix – France (Frida Boccara with "Un Jour, Un Enfant"), Netherlands (Lenny Kuhr with "De troubadour"), Spain (Salomé with "Vivo cantando") and UK (Lulu with "Boom bang a bang").
 
1970
The Netherlands is elected host country.
» In the end, though, Dana from Ireland can celebrate her victory with "All kinds of everything".
 
1971
Who would have thought it?! The voting system is amended yet again ... What came out of it was a new jury constitution and the award of 10 points per song.
» Séverine from Monaco won with her very naturalist title "Un banc, un arbre, une rue" ("A bench, a tree, a street").
 
1972
» "Après toi": All the other artists did follow her in the other places until the last runner-up. Vicky Leandros wins for Luxembourg.
 
1973
Change of rules: Everyone could sing as they liked. The language of the song was no longer specified.
» And for the second time in a row, Luxembourg makes it to the very top. In 1973, with Anne-Marie David and the song "Tu te reconnaîtras".
 
1974
» The ESC reached a climax: ABBA's "Waterloo" turned out to be anything but a defeat. Sweden won, and ABBA was and will be the all time favourite of the ESC.
 
1975
A new scoring system. 1-8, 10,12 ..., this is the way it is still done today.
» Teach-in from the Netherlands wins with a sound as clear as a bell: "Ding Dinge Dong".
 
1976
» The UK decides the ESC in its favour: Brotherhood of Man wins, pleading "Save Your Kisses for Me".
 
1977
Yet another change of direction: all contestants have to sing in their native language again.
» Marie Myriam sings about a bird and a child for France winning Europe’s heart ("L'oiseau et l'enfant").
 
1978
» Ihzar Cohen and the Alphabeta: With this band name, it’s hardly a surprise that the song's entitled "A-Ba-Ni-Bi"?! Delight for Israel!
 
1979
» And, once again, Israel strikes the right note to make it to the top - "Hallelujah" (performed by Gali Atari & Milk and Honey).
 
1980
ESC reaches Africa: Morocco enters the contest.
» Johnny Logan and Chorus & Sax get up there for Ireland with "What's another year", win hearts, and turn out to be right with their lyrics – except that that one year turned into seven ...
 
1981
Egypt broadcasts the ESC for the first time.
» Bucks Fizz takes the trophy for the UK with "Making your mind up".
 
1982
» This is something the world of pop needed badly: "Ein bisschen Frieden" ("A little bit of peace"). Nicole took the trophy and the ESC to Germany.
 
1983
Down under: Australia broadcasts the ESC for the first time.
» And the winner was Luxembourg, , with Corinne Hermes and her song "Si la vie est un cadeau".
 
1984
» "Diggi-loo-diggi-ley": Sweden sends Herrey' into the race to win the prize.
 
1985
This was the first time the ESC was broadcast via satellite only.
» The Bobbysocks from Norway let it swing and got the cup with "La det swinge".
 
1986
» "J'aime la vie": 15-year-old Sandra Kim could truly say that life was cool. First place for Belgium!
 
1987
» Remember 1980: same country, same star, same place – only a different title. Johnny Logan is the first artist to win the ESC for the second time, this time with "Hold me now".
 
1988
» And the winner is ... Switzerland! And no less a person than now international star Celine Dion made it possible with "Ne partez pas sans moi".
 
1989
Another new rule: only those over 16 could enter the contest.
» This time it was Riva! They rocked the house for Yugoslavia – "Rock Me".
 
1990
New idea: The postcards presenting the participants were introduced.
» Ciao, Italia! Toto Cutugno and his song "Insieme 1992" had no reason to fear the competition. First place!
 
1991
» France and Sweden: two countries were level on points. In the end, Carola made the race with "Fangad av en stormvind", leaving Amina singing "C'est le dernier qui a parlé qui a raison" behind. Why? Sweden got more 12-point votes.
 
1992
» Johnny Logan: Take 3! Ireland, asserts itself again with a song by Johnny Logan, "Why me?". Performer: Linda Martin.
 
1993
» And on goes the story of Irish success: The 5th Emerald Isle victory in the history of the ESC was thanks to Niamh Kavanagh with "In your eyes".
 
1994
» It's almost becoming routine: Ireland practically holds a season ticket for first place. For the third time in a row, the Irish win the ESC when Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan pull off this unheard-of trick with "Rock'n' roll kids".
 
1995
» An evening song, "Nocturne" grants Secret Garden its victory. Norway goes into raptures!
 
1996
The number of participants is limited to a maximum of 23 countries.
» And, well, almost the order of the day by now: the Grand Prix goes to Ireland! The 7th victory in ESC history is won by Eimear Quinn with his winning song "The Voice".
 
1997
» A bit of variety at the top: Katrina and the Waves take the next event to the UK with them, and while they're at it, score an international hit with "Love Shine a Light".
 
1998
Power to the people: televoting is introduced in the countries with the necessary infrastructure.
» And another novelty: For the first time, a transsexual "diva" won the Grand Prix. Dana International strutted onto the podium for Israel!
 
1999
Change of rules once again: contestants can choose what language they want to sing in!
» Take me to your heaven": Sweden's Charlotte Nilsson's plea was answered – first place in this year’s ESC paradise.
 
2000
ESC goes multimedia: for the first time a commercial CD featuring all 24 ESC songs comes out, and the event is broadcast live on the Internet. Additionally, all fans in Asia can now be reached via permanent facilities.
» The Olsen Brothers from Denmark were not only flying "On the Wings of Love", but also riding the wave of success.
 
2001 
Held in front of an audience of 38,000 at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, the biggest event in ESC history is broadcast all around the world.
» Here, Tanel Padar, Dave Benton and 2XL from Estonia convinced crowds and jury with their title "Everybody".
 
2002

Yet another change of rules: The number of participating countries is raised to 24.
» Marie N helped the Grand Prix to stay in the Baltic states – it travelled from Estonia to Latvia.
 
2003
» The award now journeys south from Riga to the Golden Horn: Sertab Erener mixed pop and rap in 2003, seasoning the blend with oriental flavours, and shone for Turkey in the end. Istanbul, here we come!
 
2004
The Eurovision community of 36 participating member countries gathered ‘Under the same sky’ in Istanbul where Ruslana, a rising Ukrainian star dressed in leather and furs, won the contest with her wild dancers!

This year, a brand-new format was devised with the competition split into a semi-final and a final and, for the first time in Eurovision history, a centralised televoting was installed.

All songs and the show itself were made available on CD and DVD. During the show, TV audience figures shot up with an average market share of 50% in the majority of the participating countries.

Because Ruslana won the contest with the song ‘Wild Dances’, next year's contest will be held in Kiev in the Ukraine.

2005
Around 280 artists were involved in the contest. The 50th anniversary edition of the Eurovision Song Contest set a new record with 39 participating countries.

For Eurovision Ukraine opened its borders. President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree to give visa-free access to the country for a limited period to all citizens of the European Union and Switzerland.

The Final of the 50th Eurovision Song Contest was held on Saturday 21 May at the Sports Palace (Palats Sportu) in Kyiv. The Eurovision Semi Final was held on Thursday 19 May.

The event, hosted by Ukrainian national broadcaster, NTU, comprised two live televised contests in one week – a Semi Final and a Final – which were broadcast live from Kyiv over the Eurovision network.

The Eurovision Song Contest was broadcast live in over 40 countries.

The venue: The Sports Palace is the biggest indoor sport and concert venue in Kyiv and has a seating capacity of more than 7,000 originally installed seats (except more space in the middle rows).

A 2,200-strong international team worked in the Sports Palace to put on the event.

1,700 members of the Press were accredited to report on the contest.

For Eurovision fans and journalists a special „Eurocamp“ was established.

For the first time in Eurovision history Greece won the Grand Prix with Helena Paparizou’s song „My Number One“.

2006
See you in Athens!

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