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MTV celebrates 31 years on air

Aug. 1, 1981 MTV launches with the premiere

Aug. 1, 1981 MTV launches with the premiere of The Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The first hour also featured videos from Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, The Who, The Pretenders, Styx, and .38 Special. Credit: MTV

On Aug. 1, 1981, MTV made its debut as the music video TV station. Now 31 years later, the channel has branched out, producing a slew of original shows, including hits like “The Real World” and “The Jersey Shore.”

The first video to air on the network was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles. The song was big overseas, but had yet to become popular in America. After it aired on MTV, the song quickly became a U.S. hit.

As we prepare for the next round of Video Music Awards on the network on Sept. 9, let's remember a time before the channel discovered reality shows and TRL.

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