Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, INXS & more inaugurated the survey.
"Billboard debuts weekly chart of alternative rock," Billboard announced in a page 1 headline in the Sept. 10, 1988, issue.
On that date, Billboard introduced the weekly, 30-position Modern Rock Tracks chart, with the goal of, per the story written by Sean Ross, "surveying progressive commercial and noncommercial rock stations, in response to industry demand for consistent information on alternative airplay."
The ranking, then fueled by 29 "influential" reporting radio stations, joined the then-seven-year-old, 50-position Album Rock chart. While Album Rock was then ruled by the likes of Van Halen, Def Leppard and Robert Palmer, its new sister survey arrived populated by such more experimental acts as Psychedelic Furs, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Erasure and INXS.