20 years ago last night, THE SIMPSONS made its premiere on the fledgling FOX network.
The Simpsons characters actually appeared before that in crudely-drawn short animated spots that cartoonist Matt Groening created for THE TRACEY ULLMAN SHOW in April 1987.
The first episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" told the heartwarming story of how Homer saves Christmas.
After the family's Christmas savings is spent on Bart's costly tattoo removal procedure and Homer is denied his annual take-home bonus, the desperate dad pulls a Fred Flintstone and takes a second job as a department store Santa.
In the end, Homer ends up getting a very special present for the family, a dog which they name Santa's Little Helper.
The series began airing weekly on then as a regular series on Jan. 14, 1990 . The show went on to become a huge hit and helped put FOX on the map. The characters Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie soon became a major merchandising force. To date THE SIMPSONS has aired almost 450 episodes and has become the longest running animated series, the longest running American sitcom, and the longest-running entertainment program in the history of US television. D'oh!