ESPN History

Editor’s year-end picks: ESPN History

Editor’s note: As 2012 approaches, Front Row will revisit a few of our most popular posts from our first nine months of existence — just in case you missed them the first time.

Historical posts have proven popular with Front Row readers: You are curious about how the network began and what’s in our vaults.

On Sept. 1, 1980 ESPN, which had been on the air a little less than a year to that point, flipped the switch on full-fledged, 24-hour programming for the first time.

Front Row marked the 31-year anniversary with this post written by Chris LaPlaca, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications.

In 1980, he was part of ESPN’s three-person public relations department.

The vintage video above — featuring then-SportsCenter anchor George Grande and play-by-play announcer Jim Simpson — helped power the time machine trip.

In October, TV Guide Network ranked ESPN’s on-air debut on Sept. 7, 1979 among the 100 Moments That Changed Television.

ESPN rated No. 17.

In the video below, check out some of the first programs aired during the debut — including men’s slo-pitch softball and rugby.

Chris Berman and former SportsCenter anchor and current Good Morning America host Robin Roberts are among the experts interviewed.

Want to know more about ESPN’s beginnings?

Watch these Front Row YouTube videos featuring company founder Bill Rasmussen as well as Chuck Pagano, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer and Bill Lamb, Vice-President, Transmission.

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