The Edinburgh Festival Fringe grew out of the Edinburgh International Festival. It attracts amateur and professional groups, who perform outwith the official Festival, on the fringe of the main event. It started in 1947 when eight theatre groups turned up uninvited to the first Edinburgh Festival, and the first'Fringe' was a year later. It was encouraged from the outset to form itself into a coherent organisation, or become attached to the Festival Society in some way. The first Fringe programme was produced in 1954 (the Festival being very reluctant to advertise Fringe productions in its own programme); and in 1955 a box-office covering most of the Fringe productions was created that was run by students of Edinburgh University. Typical performers at that stage were some professional companies, but also amateurs and students.
A corporate identity to the Fringe was established by the late 1950s. The organisation was formalised as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society in 1958 . Each group who appeared at the Fringe the following year provided details for the secretary of the newly-formed Society in order that a programme of Fringe events not appearing in the official Festival programme could be published. The Festival Fringe Society Ltd was formally incorporated in May 1969 , with a board of directors. This was felt to be a necessary step because of so many member organisations of the Society and the spread of business. A greater professionalism of administration resulted.
Today, ticket sales for the Fringe outstrip those of the official Festival. It attracts performers from all over the world: one-man/woman shows, comedians, musical events of all types, exhibitions, ballet and theatre. Relations with the Festival are occasionally uneasy, but the two need each other, just as during the annual almost month-long period in which they exist they are a crucial part of the city of Edinburgh's economy.
See Alistair Moffat, The Edinburgh Fringe(London and Edinburgh, 1978)