In North America, the music genre that became known as hardcore punk originated in different areas in late 1970s and early 1980s in California, Washington, DC, Chicago, New York City, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto and Boston. The origin of the term hardcore punk is not documented. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81. However, until about 1983, the term hardcore was used fairly sparingly, and mainly as a descriptive term. (i.e., a band would be called a "hardcore band" and a concert would be a "hardcore show"). American teenagers who were fans of hardcore punk simply considered themselves fans of punk – although they were not necessarily interested in the original punk rock sound of late 1970s (e.g., the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash, the Damned, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Dead Boys). In many circles, hardcore was an in-group term, meaning 'music by people like us,' and it included a wide range of sounds, from hyper-speed hardcore to sludgy dirge-rock, and sometimes including arty experimental bands, such as The Stickmen and Flipper.
Since most bands had little access to any means of production, hardcore lauded a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. In most cities the hardcore scene relied on inexpensively-made DIY recordings done on four-track recorders and sold at shows or by mail. Concerts were promoted by photocopied zines, community radio shows, and affixing posters to walls and telephone poles. Hardcore punk fans adopted a a dressed-down style of T-shirts, jeans, and crewcut style. While 1977-era punk had used DIY clothing as well, such as torn pants held together with safety pins, the "dressed down" style of 1980s hardcore scene contrasted with the more campy, elaborate and provocative fashion styles of late 1970s punk rockers such as Soo Catwoman, which featured make-up, elaborate hairdos and avant-garde clothing experiments.
At the same time, there was a parallel development in the UK of a British form of hardcore punk, which later became known as UK 82.UK 82 bands such as Discharge and Charged GBH took the existing late 1970s punk sound and added the incessant, heavy drumbeats and "wall of sound" distortion guitar sound of New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) bands such as Motörhead. While North American hardcore punk and UK 82 hardcore developed at the same time, it is not clear whether UK 82 was directly influenced by the American hardcore punk scene, or vice versa.