The first Futuresonic in 1996 was the meeting of an emerging digital culture and the new ideas and experiments in art and politics spilling out of club culture. This was a moment when people were exploring the creative potential of the Internet and digital media. And it was a moment in music when the generation who grew up with dance culture discovered elektronische musik and musique concrète. Futuresonic was created to provide a platform for the intense creativity of the time.

The first full Futuresonic festival in September 1996 took place over one day across four spaces. The first event featured audiovisual performance, live music, maker culture, DVD art, gestural instruments, panel debates, and a telepresence link. Artists included Cristian Vogel, Andrew Weatherall, Autechre, Kaffe Matthews, Header, Alexi Blinov, SSEYO koan, Locust, Sprawl, The Wire Sound System, Soundbeam, Osymyso, Nine Bar ft Cujo, Sureshot, Resonator, Flavanaughts, Simon Mu, Talvin Singh, Matt Ducasse (Skylab), si/(cut).db, bitTonic, Pete Lawrence, Drew Hemment and Paul Thomas.