Detroit techno is a type of techno music that generally includes the first techno productions by Detroit-based artists during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Detroit has been cited as the birthplace of techno. Prominent Detroit techno artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. A distinguishing trait of Detroit techno is the use of analog synthesizers and early drum machines, particularly the Roland TR-909, or, in later releases, the use of digital emulation to create the characteristic sounds of those machines.
Detroit techno music was originally thought of as a subset to Chicago's early style of house. Many of the early techno tracks had futuristic or robotic themes, although a notable exception to this trend was a single by Derrick May under his pseudonym Rhythim Is Rhythim, called "Strings of Life" (1987). This vibrant dancefloor anthem was filled with rich synthetic string arrangements and took the underground music scene by storm in May 1987. It "hit Britain in an especially big way during the country's 1987-1988 house explosion." It became May's best known track, which, according to Frankie Knuckles, "just exploded. It was like something you can't imagine, the kind of power and energy people got off that record when it was first heard. Mike Dunn says he has no idea how people can accept a record that doesn't have a bassline." With subtle differences between the genres, clubs in both cities included Detroit techno and Chicago house tracks in their playlists without objection from patrons (or much notice by non-audiophiles).
The Belleville Three
The three individuals most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre are Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, also known as the "Belleville Three". The three, who were high school friends from Belleville, Michigan, created electronic music tracks in their basement(s). Eventually, they were in demand at local dance clubs, thanks in part to Detroit radio personality The Electrifying Mojo. Ironically, Derrick May once described Detroit techno music as being a "complete mistake...like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator, with only a sequencer to keep them company."
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