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During development, regulatory factors appear in a precise order to determine cell fates over time. Consequently, to investigate complex tissue development, it is necessary to visualize and manipulate cell lineages with temporal control. Current strategies for tracing vertebrate cell lineages lack genetic access to sequentially produced cells. Here, we present TEMPO (Temporal Encoding and Manipulation in a Predefined Order), an imaging-readable genetic tool allowing differential labeling and manipulation of consecutive cell generations in vertebrates. TEMPO is based on CRISPR and powered by a cascade of gRNAs that drive orderly activation and inactivation of reporters and/or effectors. Using TEMPO to visualize zebrafish and mouse neurogenesis, we recapitulated birth-order-dependent neuronal fates. Temporally manipulating cell-cycle regulators in mouse cortex progenitors altered the proportion and distribution of neurons and glia, revealing the effects of temporal gene perturbation on serial cell fates. Thus, TEMPO enables sequential manipulation of molecular factors, crucial to study cell-type specification.