This Was Television On August 1

1981: Video kills the radio star

Footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a splashy colorful logo, and a video by The Buggles announced MTV’s entrance to the cable TV universe. Music Television quickly became a key driver of cable’s growing ubiquity, as well as a one of the biggest influences on the pop culture aesthetic of the 1980s (as Cory Barker will discover when he begins covering Miami Vice for This Was Television later this month).

As MTV’s notoriety grew, it encouraged cable viewers who still lacked the channel to call their providers and demand, “I want my MTV.” Historians believe this is the only recorded instance of basing a successful business strategy on a cable company’s willingness to listen to its customers.  -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Tempestt Bledsoe, middle Huxtable (39); Dom DeLuise, Entertainer (d. 2009); Jason Momoa, our sun-and-stars (33); David Wain, Statesman (43).

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