The MTV of today is packed with more reality television than music videos. But the groundbreaking network used to air music videos, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and promised that we’d “never look at music the same way again.” And we haven’t, after the channel’s maiden broadcast back in 1981. Today is the 34th anniversary of that first year on air. Here are some fun facts about the very first music videos played on MTV and the network itself that reveal the channel’s widespread cultural influence.
MTV launched on Saturday, August 1, 1981, at 12:01 AM Eastern Time.
The first words spoken on the MTV Broadcast were “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” by John Lack, the first Chief Operating Officer of MTV Networks. It was accompanied by footage of the first Space Shuttle launch countdown of Columbia and the launch of Apollo 11.
MTV wanted to include Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for mankind” quote, but the astronaut refused.
MTV aired 116 videos during their first broadcast (some videos repeated).
The original five MTV VJs were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, and Martha Quinn.