August 1st, 2011
01:46 PM ET
Thirty years ago, a network that's now synonymous with pop culture and providing some of the best entertainment of the century was born.
Although we've lost count of how many jaw-dropping moments and reality TV shows MTV has produced, the network has managed to hold our attention, even though most viewers have gone from anticipating the latest music video to watching what the cast of "Jersey Shore" will do next.
Take a look back through MTV's history, as it's evolved from an authority on what the cool kids are watching to what some would call a highly addictive, albeit perhaps mindless source of entertainment.
1. MTV launches with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star"
The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" became the first music video to premiere at midnight on August 1, 1981, after one of the creators, John Lack, spoke the iconic words, "Ladies and gentleman, rock and roll."
2. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" music video
The King of Pop's 14-minute video - which has become one of the most influential music videos of all-time - aired on MTV December 2, 1983. The video even won a Grammy in 1985.
3. Video Music Awards with Madonna's "Like a Virgin"
Before Kanye West famously interrupted Taylor Swift, the world gasped as Madonna rolled around the stage in a wedding dress singing "Like a Virgin" at the first-ever Video Music Awards. Her 1984 performance seems tame by today's standards, but the song inspired controversy - and huge record sales - from its beginning.
4. Cindy Crawford on "House of Style"
Hosted by supermodel Cindy Crawford, "House of Style" fed into the fascination of the modeling industry. The show premiered on January 1, 1989 and although it ran for 11 years, it started losing viewers after the gorgeous and poised Crawford left in 1995.
5. "Beavis and Butt-head"
The obnoxious cartoon "Beavis and Butt-head" - known for taking everything a step too far - premiered on MTV March 8, 1993 and ran until 1998. Although its many fans mourned the relatively short-lived series, the show is set to come back in October 2011 with new episodes.
6. "The Real World"
Who knew that throwing a group of strangers together in a house could be so fascinating? The mother of all reality shows - "The Real World" - began in 1992 and hasn't faltered since. The show, heading into its 26th season, set the tone and structure for countless reality shows since then - dealing with teens who wanted fame, drama and, of course, sex.
7. Nirvana on "MTV Unplugged"
Although "MTV Unplugged" first aired in 1989, it was the November 1993 recording with Nirvana that cemented it in music history. Frontman Kurt Cobain and the band opted for an acoustic, more intimate performance than the previous concert-like iterations of the show. Sadly, five months after the session, Cobain committed suicide.
With its skull-and-crutches logo, 2000's "Jackass" showcased what would be uploaded to YouTube in seconds today. Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Brandon Dicamillo, Ryan Dunn, Steve-O and the rest of the cast risked their lives and sanity to film crazy stunts, ranging from bull-fighting to setting one's hair on fire. It might not have been responsible, but its audience loved it.
9. Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna
The divas of the pop world collided - literally - at the 2003 VMAs, when Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera paid homage to Madonna with a reprise of "Like a Virgin." Madonna herself joined them on stage as she kissed both Aguilera and Spears, sending shock waves through everyone's television screens.
So you're the unpopular kid in school who wants to be crowned the homecoming king? The reality show "MADE" was the stuff of dreams, as it promised to transform and coach teens to meet goals, ranging from becoming a rugby player to getting a first date.
11. "16 and Pregnant"
It was somewhat of a grim departure from the "Jackass"- and "The Real World"-style reality shows, but "16 and Pregnant" quickly gained a following after being broadcast on June 11, 2009, showing teen mothers and their challenges in having children. In fact, MTV launched the show's spin-off "Teen Mom" in December of that year.
12. "Jersey Shore"
No matter what controversy it causes, MTV consistently manages to pervade American culture with its programming, as is the case with "Jersey Shore," a reality show that follows a semi-Italian American cast and their hyped-up drama and wild partying. It's hard to imagine that before December 3, 2009, we wouldn't have recognized the Snooki hair bump or The Situation's abs.
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