cable tv Cable TV was invented in 1948. At first, its sole purpose was to bring the broadcast channels to areas with poor reception. In the 1970s, local access and specialty channels were added to the lineup. The industry as we know it really came into being in the late 1970s, when channels like HBO, TBS Superstation, Nickelodeon, The Movie Channel, ESPN and Showtime all put their signals on satellite transponders and became nationwide cable networks and superstations.
In the 1980s, new cable systems were installed and the number of customers increased dramatically. 23 percent of American households were subscribers in 1980. By 1987, this figure had increased to 50 percent.
Additional satellites were launched and new networks were formed. The number of nationwide cable networks increased from 28 in 1980 to 79 in 1989. During this decade, ESPN was the most successful cable network. HBO led the way in the premium channel market.
In 1980, the channel capacity of a typical cable system increased from 35 channels to 54 channels. By the end of the decade, up to 100 channels were possible. Most cable systems offered far below that level. The average cable system carried 12 channels in 1981, 21 channels in 1986, and 31 channels in 1989.
Family sitcoms dominated the 1980s, but with a modern twist: Nicole had two dads, Webster and Arnold were adopted by white parents, and the Tanner girls had three father figures and no mother. And let's not forget those Duke boys or that lovable furry alien from the planet Melmac!
After a shaky start at the beginning of the decade, Saturday Night Live regained its footing and reclaimed its spot at the top of the ratings charts. The popularity of music videos gradually made shows like American Bandstand obsolete.
Music videos were the perfect blend of pop music and television. Visit my Music Videos page to learn about programs and channels dedicated to music videos.
In 1980, television's favorite villain finally got what he deserved, and we spent an entire summer wondering who shot J.R.? Crime and adventure dramas featured awesome high-tech gadgets like talking cars and super helicopters. Dallas and Dynasty showed us how the other half lives, and we were all invited to the wedding of the decade on General Hospital.
daytime drama As The World Turns Edge Of Night Search For Tomorrow Guiding Light Another World One Life To Live Days Of Our Lives Santa Barbara All My Children Loving The Bold & The Beautiful General Hospital Ryan's Hope The Young & The Restless Texas
During the 1980s, children's programming focused less on entertainment and more on selling toys. Every toy, it seemed, was being made into a cartoon, and vice-versa. For those households with cable TV, Nickelodeon provided programs just for kids. And Pee Wee? ...well, you just had to see it to believe it!