The eighties. The decade of Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson, Pac-Man and cellular phones. Almost every facet of entertainment was like an anti-seventies statement. People didn’t want to be depressed by their music, films and television anymore. The eighties were fun and bright. Star Wars helped usher in that attitude in 1977 at a time when grounded and gritty films like All the President’s Men and Network were playing in theaters. This new decade was determined to be more “awesome” than any other.


  • Cinemax is launched.
  • CNN is launched.
  • Bravo is launched.
  • BET is launched as a programming block on Nickelodeon. Becomes a full-fledged network in 1983.
  • Magnum P.I. premieres on CBS.
  • Nightline premieres on ABC.
  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage premieres on PBS. Hosted by Carl Sagan.
  • Closed captioning debuts.
  • Bosom Buddies premieres on ABC.


  • MTV is launched.
  • The People’s Court premieres in syndication as the first reality court show.
  • Dynasty premieres on ABC. Lasts until 1989.
  • Hill Street Blues premieres on NBC. Lasts until 1987.
  • Wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London airs.
  • SCTV Network premieres on NBC.
  • Walter Cronkite resigns from CBS Evening News.
  • Pat Sajak debuts as host of Wheel of Fortune.
  • Soap opera Falcon Crest premieres on CBS.
  • The Smurfs premieres on NBC.


  • Family Ties premieres on NBC.
  • Late Night premieres on NBC with host David Letterman.
  • Knight Rider premieres on NBC.
  • Cagney & Lacey premieres on CBS.
  • Cheers premieres on NBC. Lasts until 1993.
  • St. Elsewhere premieres on NBC. Lasts until 1988.
  • Dolby introduces Surround Sound for home use.
  • Remington Steele premieres on NBC.
  • Newhart premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1990.


  • The ATeam premieres on NBC.
  • Fraggle Rock premieres on HBO.
  • Reading Rainbow premieres on PBS.
  • The Disney Channel is launched.


    • Lifetime is launched.
    • AMC is launched.
    • Miami Vice premieres on NBC.
    • Murder, She Wrote premieres on CBS.
    • The Cosby Show premieres on NBC.
    • Alex Trebek debuts as host of Jeopardy!
    • Apple’s famous “1984” Mac ad airs during Super Bowl XVIII for the first and only time on national television.
    • The MTV Video Music Awards are televised for the first time. Hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler.
    • Night Court premieres on NBC.
    • Punky Brewster premieres on NBC.
    • Who’s the Boss? premieres on ABC.


    • FOX is launched.
    • Discovery is launched.
    • The Golden Girls premieres on NBC.
    • Moonlighting premieres on ABC.
    • MacGyver premieres on ABC.
    • Thundercats premieres in syndication.
    • Larry King Live premieres on CNN.
    • VH1 is launched.
    • Wrestlemania makes its pay-per-view debut.
    • Mr. Belvedere premieres on ABC.
    • 227 premieres on NBC.
    • Growing Pains premieres on ABC.


    • QVC is launched.
    • The Oprah Winfrey Show premieres in syndication. Lasts until 2011.
    • L.A. Law premieres on NBC.
    • ALF premieres on NBC.
    • The cast of The Andy Griffith Show reunites in the TV movie Return to Mayberry.
    • Matlock premieres on NBC.
    • Perfect Strangers premieres on ABC.
    • Head of the Class premieres on ABC.
    • Designing Women premieres on CBS.
    • Siskel and Ebert make their television debut on At the Movies.
    • Sledge Hammer! premieres on ABC.


    • E! Network is launched.
    • 21 Jump Street premieres on FOX.
    • The Simpsons make their television debut on The Tracey Ullman Show.
    • Marriedwith Children premieres on FOX.
    • Unsolved Mysteries premieres on NBC.
    • Full House premieres on ABC.
    • Thirtysomething premieres on ABC.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation premieres in syndication. Lasts until 1994.
    • Cosby Show spin-off A Different World premieres on NBC.
    • Jake and the Fatman premieres on CBS.


    • America’s Most Wanted premieres on FOX.
    • Mystery Science Theater 3000 premieres on KTMA-TV.
    • The Wonder Years premieres on ABC.
    • Roseanne premieres on ABC. Lasts until 1997.
    • Murphy Brown premieres on CBS.
    • The Kids Choice Awards are televised for the first time on Nickelodeon.
    • Golden Girls spin-off Empty Nest premieres on NBC.


    • The Arsenio Hall Show premieres in syndication.
    • COPS premieres on FOX.
    • America’s Funniest Home Videos premieres on ABC.
    • Quantum Leap premieres on NBC.
    • Saved By the Bell premieres on NBC.
    • Doogie Howser M.D. premieres on ABC.
    • Perfect Strangers spin-off Family Matters premieres on ABC.
    • Baywatch premieres on NBC.
    • Shining Time Station premieres on PBS and introduces Thomas the Tank Engine to television.
    • ABC introduces TGIF programming block to prime time. Lasts until 2000.
    • The Simpsons premieres on FOX.
    • Seinfeld premieres on NBC.