Thirty years ago to this day, on June 17, 1985, Discovery Channel’s first signal went to satellite – and a new network was born. Cable today has evolved from being a content channel into being a part of our lifestyle: it’s woven into our lives as a source of information, entertainment and inspiration. But in 1985 it was like the wild west of TV: thrilling, full of potential, but uninhabited and risky – no one was quite sure what would ultimately become of it.
Launching a cable network was a leap of faith, and fortunately, it was one our founder, John Hendricks, was willing to make. It’s no stretch of the word to say that John was a pioneer in the industry – and while it likely took him a while to adapt to cable’s early stages of finding its identity in the marketplace (as it probably did a lot of his peers), what he sought to do was remarkably simple: to satisfy curiosity.
Thirty years late, our mission is still to do just that. From fan favorite programs like The Crocodile Hunter, Trading Spaces, Dirty Jobs and MythBusters to iconic specials like Planet Earth, Walking with Dinosaurs, and Raising the Mammoth, to annual celebrations like Shark Week and Puppy Bowl, Discovery Communications’ networks have impacted millions of people around the world. And speaking of impact, our success has allowed us to give back to the communities in which we operate – from our Creating Change pro-bono initiative, to our annual Impact Day, to Say Yes to the Prom and other programs.
It’s hard to know what went through the minds of the first few Discovery employees as they pressed “play” on the inaugural program, Iceberg Alley, watching as it hit the airwaves. Did they ever imagine our programming would stretch to more than 220 countries and territories? That it would reach nearly three billion people? I’m not sure. I do think, though, that they realized they were part of something special – and right they were about that.
We’ve created a special interactive timeline for you to explore our company’s history with us. Visit 30YearsofDiscovery.com to browse through some of our most iconic moments – complete with some rarely-seen footage from our first several years.
Here’s to the next thirty. Cheers!