Transcriptional enhancers are short (200-1500 base pairs) DNA segments that are able to dramatically boost transcription from the promoter of a target gene. Originally discovered in simian virus 40 (SV40), a small DNA virus, transcription enhancers were soon also found in immunoglobulin genes and other cellular genes as key determinants of cell-type-specific gene expression. Enhancers can exert their effect over long distances of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of base pairs, either from upstream, downstream, or from within a transcription unit. The number of enhancers in eukaryotic genomes correlates with the complexity of the organism; a typical mammalian gene is likely controlled by several enhancers to fine-tune its expression at different developmental stages, in different cell types and in response to different signaling cues. Here, I provide a personal account of how enhancers were discovered more than 30 years ago, and also address the amazing development of the field since then.