Nickelodeon is an American cable channel. It is owned by MTV Networks which is a division of Viacom. It is probably the most famous kids television channel. It has been this way since the early 90's, but it wasn't always the amazing channel it turned into.
Nickelodeon was founded on December 1st, 1977. QUBE, the first two-way interactive cable TV system was launched in Columbus, Ohio by Warner Cable (owned by Warner Communications, and an ancestor of Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment). One of the specialized channels available to subscribers of the QUBE system was Pinwheel. This was a cable channel for kids which ran for only about 6 hours per day. On April 1st, 1979 it was relaunched as Nickelodeon. This is the day they celebrated 10 years later, 20 years later, and 25 years later, but not 30 years later. Pinwheel was the main show on Nickelodeon. Along with other shows such as Video Comic Book, America Goes Bananaz, Nickel Flicks, and By The Way. Nickel Flicks was a program that showed movies, this program is what might have given the channel the name of Nickelodeon. (All shows mentioned have a history found on the alphabetical order of shows pages).
There is actually disagreement if it was 1979 or 1981 when Nickelodeon was named Nickelodeon.
This is known as when Nickelodeon was truly born. During the day Nickelodeon had began playing "filler" segments. The channel's sign-on featured a pair of hands which were used lots in between shows. Other fillers featured a male mime. In 1980, Geraldine Laybourne joined Nickelodeon's production team. She would become president of Nickelodeon in 1983. In 1980, new shows were added to the lineup, including Dusty's Treehouse, First Row Features, Special Delivery, What Will They Think Of Next?, Livewire, and Hocus Focus. Also in the same year, Video Comic Book was renamed to Video Comicz. On April 1st, 1981 (once again April Fool's Day), the channel became Nickelodeon "the first channel for kids", this was true because Disney Channel wasn't around yet and Cartoon Network wouldn't be around for another 10 years. The original Nickelodeon did not have the orange splat sign known so well these days. Instead the logo was a pinball that would say Nickelodeon.This day they expanded to another QUBE system in Buffalo, New York. Nickelodeon was mostly famous for 2 things in 1982: You Can't Do That On Television and the sign off, which involved silver circles which combined to say Nickelodeon. (During its early years Nickelodeon ended its programming at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, turning its channel over to the Alpha Repertory Television Service and, later for about a year, A&E Network). At one point the channel just went to a test screen after a sign-off. The channel was approved by the National Education Association.
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The network struggled at first, having lost $4 million by 1984 and finishing dead last among cable networks. After firing the staff, MTV Networks president Bob Pittman turned to Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman, who created MTV's iconic IDs a few years earlier, to reverse Nickelodeon's fortunes. Seibert and Goodman's company, Fred/Alan, teamed up with Tom Corey and Scott Nash to replace the "Pinball" logo with the "orange splat" logo in use till September 28th, 2009. Fred/Alan also enlisted the help of animators, writers, producers and doo-wop group The Jive Five to create new idents for the network. Within six months of the rebranding, Nickelodeon went from worst to first and has stayed there for 25 years.
Nickelodeon became famous for its green slime from the show You Can't Do That On Television. You Can't Do That On Television is probably the most famous show from Nickelodeon is the 80's. It featured Alannis Morisette and other people that would become famous. It wasn't originally a Nickelodeon show it was a Canadian television show. The green slime was adopted as part of many of the Nickelodeon shows. Later in the 80's more Nickelodeon shows came such as Livewire, Standby: Lights,Camera,Action, The Third Eye, Mr. Wizards World and more were part of the regular Nickelodeon time slot. In December of 1984, the original silver "Pinball" logo, which was used since 1981, was replaced with the current "orange splat" logo. This logo comes in all sorts of shapes, but the same color, word and scheme.
On July 1st, 1985 a new block on Nickelodeon was made. It was called Nick At Nite. On Sundays-Thursdays it originally started at 9 PM and ended at 6 AM Eastern And Pacific Standard Time. (Let's come all the way to the present for a second), recently they added a show called Malcolm In The Middle. So now Sundays-Thursdays it starts at 8 PM and ends at 6:30 AM. (Now Back To The 80's), and from Fridays-Saturdays Nick At Nite started at 10 PM and ended at 6 AM. MTV Networks Bob Pittman president asked Gerry Laybourne, Nickelodeon's General Manager to develop programming vacated by A&E Network, to take better advantage of precious satellite time. After bad attemepts at original programming development, she asked programming and branding consultants Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert of Fred/Alan Inc. After being presented with over 200 episodes of The Donna Reed Show (which Laybourne despised), Goodman and Seibert thought of the idea of the "first oldies TV Network". Head programmer Debby Beece led the team to the name "Nick-at-Nite," and Fred/Alan developed the original logo with Tom Corey and Scott Nash. In the beginning days of Nick At Nite the block showed shows such as The Donna Reed Show, Dennis The Menace, and Route 66. There were many other shows that would make their way on the block. In the beginning the shows were mainly classics from the 50's and 60's and a few from the 70's. As time went on they would add shows from the 80's. The current day Nick At Nite has shows from mainly the 90's. They have even recently added a few shows from the new millenium. On April 29th, 1996 another channel was launched it was called Nick At Nite's TV Land originally. It showed shows from Nick At Nite and more classics all day and all night. Eventually this channel would just call itself TV Land.
On January 4th, 1988 Nickelodeon made another new block. It was called Nick Jr. It was seen in the morning on weekends. It was aimed at children 5 and younger. 6 year olds and older may have enjoyed it too. The main idea was for Nick to have a block for the littler kids while their older syblings were at school. Before 1988, many shows that might be associated with a preschool audience were broadcast on Nickelodeon, but were not specifically distinguished in their own programming block. Most preschool programs were shown roughly between the hours of 7 AM and 3 PM Eastern, which approximates the hours in which older children might be in school. By the start of 1988, on January 4, the Nick Jr. brand was in place and in use, with an approximate six hour portion of the Nickelodeon broadcast day, from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. Eastern time. The logo for the new Nick Jr. brand became a distinctive feature for the block. While Nickelodeon used a completely orange logo, Nick. Jr. used an orange 'Nick' and a light blue 'Jr', with the blue always smaller than the orange. The logo typically depicted a parent or older sibling (orange), and child (light blue). Until 1989 Pinwheel (the show that started it all) was featured in the Nick Jr. block and eventually was replaced by another puppet show Eureeka's Castle. Much of the remaining time in the lineup, particularly early in this time period, was devoted to animated series, many of which were of foreign origin. Such as The World Of David The Gnome, Noozles, The Adventures Of The Little Koala, The Little Prince and The Littl' Bits. Programming in the vein of live action and puppeted preschool programming also appeared during this time. Sometimes for Nick Jr. The first program that aired on Nick Jr. was Belle And Sebastian.
By 1990, Nickelodeon was seen in 52 million homes in the United States. In November 1988, Nickelodeon joined the USF team to make its very first studio. By June 1989 Nickelodeon was shooting Super Sloppy Double Dare at that studio. It was not until June 7th, 1990 though that the studio and the park officially opened. The studio was the home of where many of the Nickelodeon shows were produced. The first shows shot there were Double Dare and its spin-off Super Sloppy Double Dare. There is a bigger history of Nickelodeon studios in the section of this website: Places To See.
In 1990 Nickelodeon decided to get some of their own programming of cartoons. They asked for three new toons. Later they would name them Nicktoons. This is what John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren and Stimpy said about this, in the book Not Just Cartoons Nicktoons!
"A friend in the business told me that Vanessa Coffey was starting up an animation department at Nickelodeon and was looking for new projects that had nothing to do with toys, existing characters, or network-style shows. She wanted artists who had actually invented a show themselves, really believed in what they were doing, and loved their own characters."
Jim Jenkins creator of Doug also learned about this new idea Nickelodeon had and Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo and Paul Germain all got in on the new idea for Nicktoons. They all pitched ideas and all got a thumbs up for a first season. This may not have been known at the time, but what was happening was the making of history. Prior to 1991 Nickelodeon aired mostly foreign animated cartoons. On August 11th, 1991 Doug, Rugrats then Ren and Stimpy all premiered on Nickelodeon. Doug was popular on Nickelodeon a very good, funny and meaningful cartoon that taught life lessons. Rugrats was a very funny, real cartoon about how babies and grown-ups think about life. Then Ren and Stimpy which was one of the funniest kids shows of that time, but could go overboard.
Ren and Stimpy lasted 52 episodes, the creator was kind of crazy and ended up getting fired. Some people thought the show wasn't as good when he left. Doug also lasted 52 episodes and then was sold to and moved over to Disney appearing on ABC and maybe Disney Channel for awhile being not quite as good as when it was on Nickelodeon in my opinion, but still better then the cartoons of today. Rugrats is known as one of the best cartoons of all time lasting 176 episodes and 12 seasons playing from its release in 1991 until almost 13 years later, June 8th 2004. There was a 2 year stop in production from May 29th, 1994- December 6th, 1996. It had 3 movies Rugrats The Movie, Rugrats In Paris, and Rugrats Go Wild (Also including The Wild Thornberrys). It had a few spin-offs, All Grown Up!, about the Rugrats in their pre-teen years and Angelica's Pre-School Daze about Angelica in pre-school. Some people believe that after the first movie was made the episodes weren't as good. Eventually people did loose interest in all these shows and they were all taken off the air.
On August 15th, 1992 a new block came onto Nickelodeon. It was called SNICK, which was short for Saturday Night Nickelodeon. It was a two hour long block that was from 8 PM-10 PM. In the beginning the schedule was Clarissa Explains It All a popular pre-teen sitcom. Then the Nicktoon The Ren and Stimpy Show. The opening night of SNICK a new show was launched on Nickelodeon it was called Roundhouse. Roundhouse was a musical, comedy, variety show. Some people believe it gave birth to the show All That. And then to send you to bed in fright the block ended with Are You Afraid Of The Dark? A Canadian show where a group of people called The Midnight Society tell spooky stories.
On September 18th, 1993 the fourth Nicktoon came out. It was called Rocko's Modern Life created by Joe Murray, about an Australian wallaby that is learning how to live away from home. His best friend is a cow Heffer voiced by Tom Kenny the same guy that is Spongebob. Heffer was raised by wolves, but doesn't know the difference between him and his family until Rocko says, "I didn't know Heffer was adopted," in the episode Who's For Dinner? Overall the show is one of the funniest Nicktoons, but along with Ren & Stimpy it can sometimes turn into more of an adult cartoon. Later these parts usually were edited out. You can see many things from Rocko's Modern Life that later happen in SpongeBob SquarePants. Steven Hillenberg creator of SpongeBob also worked on Rocko's Modern Life.
In 1990 Nickelodeon Magazine published its first two issues at a cover price of $1.95, but also had free distribution with a purchase from participating Pizza Huts. The magazine returned to production in Summer 1993. Originally published on a quarterly basis, it switched to bi-monthly with February/March 1994 issue. It then went to 10 times per year starting March 1995, with the bi-monthly December/January and June/July issue; it continued a monthly schedule up through the magazine's closure in December 2009. In spite of being related to the network it is named after, Nick Magazine covered all sorts of topics for kids, whether inside the network or outside (though with an obvious preference for Nickelodeon programming over that of competitor networks such as Disney Channel and Cartoon Network). It contained informative non-fiction pieces, humor, interviews, comics, pranks, and recipes (such as green slime cake or pranks containg slime). In May 2006 the magazine got a makeover with a brand new logo but the insides such as the comic book stayed the same. On June 3, 2009, the Magazine Group division of Nickelodeon announced the discontinuation of the magazine "by the end of 2009", along with sister publication Nick Jr. Magazine, due to economic conditions and the declining influence of magazines for children and teenagers. During the months leading up to the magazine's demise, the magazine suffered from falling circulation and advertising numbers.
In 1993 a small change was added to SNICK with a new show The Adventures of Pete and Pete. By 1994 Nickelodeon partnered with Sony Wonder to create video cassettes of the shows programming. These cassettes became a hit. Also by 1994 Doug had ended production and went into reruns. Rugrats went into a production hiatus on May 22nd, 1994. Rocko's Modern Life and The Ren & Stimpy Show continued however. Rugrats may have gone into hiatus partially because Gábor Csupó's new show AAAHH!!! Real Monsters began airing on October 30th, 1994. This became Nickelodeon's fifth Nicktoon.
Also in 1994 The Big Help was launched. The Big Help is an educational community outreach program. It was a yearly event from around the country had the chance to call in to try and get one of their local parks redone by Nickelodeon. The top ten places voted would get refurbished by Nickelodeon in an 8 hour special. After the terrorist attacks in 2001 there were a few unscheduled specials. After this The Big Help died out, but in 2008 The Big Green Help was created to get kids involved in stopping global warming. This ended in 2009, and recently The Big Help was relaunched.
SNICK changed again in 1994 with two new shows. The Secret World of Alex Mack premiered replacing Clarissa Explains It All and All That premiered replacing Roundhouse. Although Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins are said to be the creators of All That, Dan Schneider provided most of the ideas. This was the first of Dan Shneider's Teen Sitcoms on Nickelodeon. During commercials on All That there would be shorts. One was Action League NOW! Which would later be on the next new Nicktoon Kablam!
In October of 1995 Nickelodeon opened up their own website: http://www.nick.com/ . Initially the website was available only using America Online's internet service, but was later available to all internet service providers and became a strong promotional tool for Nickelodeon. Nick.com has been praised for maintaining a high level of respect for user privacy during the growth of the website. The website's popularity grew and in March 1999, Nick.com became the highest rated website for children aged six to fourteen years old.
In January 2000, develepers started discussing expansion of Nick.com to make it an even more desirable website for children to visit. Mike Skagerlind, the website's general manager at the time said "But we felt strongly that it could be a lot more. We basically wanted it to be the main place that kids go to on the Web." On June 4, 2000, the website redesign began. The interface was revamped and to make it more appealing to children and the most significant development was the use of Flash for animated graphics and buttons. They also made sister channels and a Nick Jr website. For more information on Nick.com check out the page dedicated to it...or go to the website itself.
On March 16th, 1996 a new show premiered called The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. In the fall of 1996 this would be the show that replaced The Ren & Stimpy Show on SNICK. This show happened to be created by Alan Goodman (the man who helped rebrand Nickelodeon in the 80s).
In 1995 Nickelodeon ventured into the movie world making its own motion picture company. The first movie this company released was Harriet The Spy on July 10th, 1996. This was the first of two film adaptations of the Hariet the Spy book. Before the film started in theaters the pilot episode of Hey Arnold! was shown.
On July 15th, 1996 Kenan & Kel premiered. The creator was Kim Bass who also co-created Sister, Sister, but the idea really came from Brian Robbins who noticed how well Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell worked together on All That. Once again Mike Tollin also helped, and Dan Schneider gave more creative ideas. This was the beggining of the creators and some actors on All That muti-tasking. By fall of 1996 Kenan & Kel had replaced The Secret World of Alex Mack on SNICK and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo replaced The Ren & Stimpy Show.
In mid-1996 Nickelodeon developed two new Nicktoons Kablam! and Hey Arnold! These Nicktoons would replace The Ren & Stimpy Show and Rocko's Modern Life. Kablam! was created by Robert Mittenthal, Will McRobb, and Chris Viscardi. Will McRobb, and Chris Viscardi has also created The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Hey Arnold! was created by Craig Bartlett and the show would become one of Nickelodeon's most notable shows. In the early 1990s Hey Arnold! claymation shorts had been on Sesame Street. Craig Bartlett had also worked on Rugrats before Hey Arnold!