We tend to forget some of the history or machines and instruments. Everyone knows the 808, and its sound is heard on a large quantity of musical productions.
From my point of view, what is interesting is to look at the reasons why it has taken such an important place in modern popular music. After all, as far as machines go, it’s somewhat limited, it’s quite big and it’s not the easiest thing to operate in some ways.
I think in the earlier days, the appeal of the machine was that it was programmable in real time and thus it allowed both real time experimentation and real time changes.
But since then, many devices have come along with better and easier ways to program beats, but they owe a debt to the TR series.
In the latter days, however, it really is down to the good design of the sound engine. Unlike sampling drum machines that came later (e.g. the 707), the analogue generation of sounds was right, and allowed for good and effective drum sounds.