The precise number of chart-toppers is debatable due to the profusion of competing charts from the 1950s to the 1980s, but the usual list used is that endorsed by the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles and subsequently adopted by the Official Charts Company.
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The UK Singles Chart (currently entitled Official Singles Chart) is compiled by the Official Charts Company (OCC), on behalf of the British record industry, listing the top-selling singles in the United Kingdom, based upon physical sales, paid-for downloads and streaming.
To be eligible for the chart, a single is currently defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as either a 'single bundle' having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes or one digital audio track not longer than 15 minutes with a minimum sale price of 40 pence. Some media outlets only list the Top 40 (such as the BBC) or the Top 75 (such as Music Week magazine) of this list.
The chart was based entirely on sales of vinyl single records from retail outlets and announced on Tuesday until October 1987, when the Top 40 was revealed each Sunday (due to the new, automated process).
The 1980s also saw the introduction of the cassette single (or "cassingle") alongside the 7-inch and 12-inch record formats; in 1987, major record labels developed a common format for the compact disc single.
However, until 1969 the Record Retailer chart was only seen by people working in the industry.
The most widely circulated chart was the NME one, as used by Radio Luxembourg's legendary Sunday night Top 20 show, as well as by ABC TV's Thank Your Lucky Stars, which had an audience of up to 6 million on ITV. 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.In May 1989, chart regulations kept Kylie Minogue's song "Hand on Your Heart" from entering at number one because sales from cassette singles were not included (they were sold for £1.99 – cheaper than allowed at the time).Following this, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) reduced the minimum price for cassette singles to influence sales figures.However, it had a significantly smaller sample size than some rival charts.Readers followed the charts in various periodicals and, during this time, the BBC used aggregated results of charts from the NME, Melody Maker, Disc and (later) Record Mirror to compile the Pick of the Pops chart.Another rival publication, Melody Maker, began compiling its own chart; it telephoned 19 stores to produce a Top 20 for 7 April 1956.