Founded by Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell from their experiences working at the FON record store. The label and store soon became home to artists who would be highly influential in shaping the future of music. The first release was by Forgemasters, a limited 500 copy pressing of "Track With No Name" financed by an Enterprise Allowance grant. The first single (WAP 001) was Unique 3's bleepy "The Theme", it set a trend for the early releases both in terms of sound and the use of purple sleeves. This was followed up by Nightmares on Wax's "Dextrous" and with Warp 6 the label had its first top twenty chart success with LFO and their eponymous single selling 120,000 copies. The first album released was Sweet Exorcist's Clonk's Coming in 1991.
Warp went on to release a series of singles and albums from 1992 under the Artificial Intelligence heading, a series of experimental electronic music releases by artists such as Aphex Twin (as Diceman and later Polygon Window), Squarepusher, Autechre, the Black Dog, Richie Hawtin and Alex Paterson (later of the Orb). Initially all the album releases were gatefold sleeves and coloured vinyl, often with striking covers by the Designers Republic or Phil Wolstenholme.