While the band's early years were shadowed by the legacy of Joy Division, their experience of the early 1980s New York club scene saw New Order increasingly incorporate dance rhythms and electronic instrumentation into their work. The band's 1983 hit "Blue Monday" became the best-selling 12-inch single of all time and a popular club track. In the 1980s, they released successful albums such as Power, Corruption & Lies (1983), Technique (1989) and the singles compilation Substance (1987). They disbanded in 1993 to work on individual projects, and reunited in 1998. In the years since, the band has gone through various hiatuses and personnel changes, most prominently the departure of Hook in 2007. They released their tenth studio album Music Complete in 2015.
The group were the flagship band for Manchester-based independent record label Factory Records and its nightclub The Haçienda. Their distinctive album sleeves and "non-image" (the band rarely gave interviews and were known for performing short concert sets with no encores) reflected the label's aesthetic and their long-term collaboration with designer Peter Saville.
Between 1977 and 1980, Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris, and Bernard Sumner were members of the post-punk band Joy Division, often featuring heavy production input from producer Martin Hannett. Curtis committed suicide on 18 May 1980, the day before Joy Division were scheduled to depart for their first American tour, and prior to release of the band's second album, Closer. The rest of the band decided soon after Curtis's death that they would carry on. Prior to his death, the members of Joy Division had agreed not to continue under the Joy Division name should any one member leave. On 29 July 1980, the still unnamed trio debuted live at Manchester's Beach Club. Rob Gretton, the band's manager for over twenty years, is credited for having found the name "New Order" in an article in The Guardian entitled "The People's New Order of Kampuchea". The band adopted this name, despite its previous use for former Stooge Ron Asheton's band The New Order. The group states that the name New Order (as was also the case with "Joy Division") does not draw a direct line to National Socialism or Fascism.
The band rehearsed with each member taking turns on vocals. Sumner ultimately took the role, as he could sing when he wasn't playing his guitar. They wanted to complete the line-up with someone they knew well and whose musical skill and style was compatible with their own. Gretton suggested Morris's girlfriend Gillian Gilbert, and she was invited to join the band in early October 1980, as keyboardist and guitarist. Her first live performance with the band occurred at The Squat in Manchester on 25 October 1980.
The initial release as New Order was the single "Ceremony", backed with "In a Lonely Place". These two songs were written in the weeks before Curtis took his own life. With the release of Movement in November 1981, New Order initially started on a similar route as their previous incarnation, performing dark, melodic songs, albeit with an increased use of synthesisers. The band viewed the period as a low point, as they were still reeling from Curtis' death. Hook commented that the only positive thing to come out of the Movement sessions was that producer Martin Hannett had showed the band how to use a mixing board, which allowed them to produce records by themselves from then on. More recently, Hook indicated a change of heart: "I think Movement gets a raw deal in general really – for me, when you consider the circumstances in which it was written, it is a fantastic record."