The 25 Most Memorable Moments in TV History

It’s not an oft-celebrated anniversary, but 62 years ago today, television as we know it was launched. It was 1951, and President Harry Truman was speaking before a conference in San Francisco about the treaty that officially ended the country’s post-WWII occupation of Japan. That’s not what was noteworthy — it was how he did it. The speech was broadcast across the nation, with 87 stations in 47 cities picking up Truman’s remarks via microwave technology. So for the first time, people all over the country could watch the same thing, at the same time. And thus was born television’s greatest purpose: as a uniting force, on which we all saw the same things, and came together to react to them with laughter, shock, joy, and tears. In honor of the occasion, we’ve selected the 25 most memorable television moments from the ensuing years.

25. The Wedding of Charles and Diana (1981)

Granted, we may laugh at their silly monarchy, but we sure do love a good royal wedding. The modern phenomenon of these affairs as Must-See TV began on July 29, 1981, when Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral in an opulent spectacle of a ceremony, viewed by nearly three-quarters of a billion people. It was a lavish introduction for “the People’s Princess”; 16 years later, people around the world would again turn to their televisions, this time to mourn her untimely death in an automobile accident.