Yesterday was MTV’s 30th Anniversary on the air and as a special tribute, one of the many things VH1 Classic showcased was playing the ORIGINAL first hour of MTV, including the commercials and technical difficulties. I grew up watching MTV and dancing around in front of the television but MTV aired 2 years and almost 2 months before I came into the world so I had never seen the first hour. My knowledge of the beginnings of MTV were basically that the first video played was “Video killed the radio star”. If you play any trivia games with Music questions, you tend to learn that fact pretty quickly. Other than that, I just knew there was a time when MTV was ALL Music, all the time versus now when there are more shows than actual music. Luckily, it WAS still like that when I watched as a little girl and danced my little feet off until I got too tired of dancing and switched to cartoons……Back then, the cartoons were so much better also, in my opinion, but that’s rather off topic, I suppose.

So I DVR’d the very first hour of MTV. How funny that I am now able to record, rewind, pause, and fast forward something that aired back on August 1st, 1981. It seems very surreal, doesn’t it?

I was confused at the beginning where they were showing a space shuttle lift off from 11 minutes beforehand…..I sat watching for a couple minutes, bored to death, thinking REALLY? This is how MTV started?! So I fast forwarded a bit until the 10,9,8, etc. countdown where the shuttle blasted off and you see the opening on the “moon” and a welcome to rock and roll television. Then I watched the first music video ever played on MTV and wondered what people must have thought that were watching THEN. Music Videos were not as accessible then as they are now…..I can imagine being very excited to have all this music suddenly available to you but that’s about it…it’s just imagining because I can’t even pretend to actually know what that’s like. Music has always BEEN for me and for kids in the future, music will always BE for them…even more so than it was for me in the beginning. It’s everywhere now. Sites like Youtube made MTV obsolete as an all music, all the time channel. Why wait for your favorite video to play when you can search for it online and get almost instant gratification?

At least I can remember back to a time before I personally had a computer. A time when I would wait patiently or IMpatiently for MTV to play the video I had been waiting for or for the radio to play my favorite song. As soon as I got my first boombox with a tape recorder, I would ask my mom for cassette tapes so I could try to record all my favorites to play over and over. Call it an old school version of Napster and Limewire before people illegally downloaded songs online. I remember getting a thrill out of having all my favorite songs for free, or almost free, except for the cost of the tape.

Later in the first hour, I heard one of the Video Jockeys or VJ’s, which are now nonexistent on MTV, mention calling your cable company and “stereoizing” your television. He also mentioned getting an MTV sticker to mark on your stereo dial where to find the channel. I must admit I still have no clue as to what they were referring to. Could you not hear the music if you didn’t do this? I don’t remember noticing this “Stereoize” option when I watched, but MTV had been out for a few years before I was old enough to watch it and remember. I guess this option is something taken for granted now….You just buy a television and the stereo is there.

As I kept watching, I was astonished to see how many differences there had been in 30 years……but it doesn’t seem THAT long ago! I, myself, will turn 30 in a couple of years. Has there really been so many changes?

Like the Mountain Dew commercial with a song and ditty unfamiliar to my ears in which I pointed out the cans to my husband and said, “Look, they look like the Throwback cans they have now.” When I had thought of those Throwback cans before, I was thinking it had been much longer than just 30 years…..

And an old commercial about Atari or rather a mother complaining about her son and husband being addicted. I played an Atari as a kid….yet I didn’t remember how different the graphics were! And a sugarfree gum called Chewel, said to be better than Carefree gum, yet I have heard of Carefree but this was a first for this Chewel gum! What a name, right?

Some of the differences like the technical difficulties, I am so glad to be without as much of, but then there are aspects I wish back…..I wish MTV was ALL music, ALL the time again. I really do…even with the Internet, there was just something nostalgic about it. And the MTV sign that would change colors and designs…I miss it, too.

But most of all, I think I miss the memories of my childhood that watching the old videos and old commercials brings to mind. For a moment, I am transported back in time when I had the energy of the Energizer bunny and could boogie for hours without needing a rest. A time when life was so much less drama and my worries were few. A time when I was free to have fun and not have to worry about bills and politics. My job was just to be a kid. MTV is a part of my childhood and a part of me aches to know that my kid won’t have the same experience with it as I do.

Happy 30th Anniversary, MTV! I had fun growing up with you!


    1. It was actually on VH1 Classic that I watched it….not sure if MTV will be playing the special or not….I accidentally came upon it and thought it would be interesting to watch…and it was! 🙂


  1. MTV, another reason why I don’t miss cable TV… But I understand it was quite a big deal when it came out, since it was the very first of its kind. Every new idea has a shorter life expentancy now, without everyone around copying you promptly.


    1. That’s true about new ideas….even when people get patents, someone will just make a copy, like you said, and change it a little bit to make it different enough where they can make money off it.


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