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Sesame Street premieres

This Day in World History

November 10, 1969

Sesame Street premieres

November 10, 1969, was a sunny day for children around the world—children of all ages. That was the day that Sesame Street, the groundbreaking brainchild of Children’s Television Workshop, debuted on public television. A mixture of education and entertainment set in a colorful, imaginary urban street scene populated by a mixture of ethnically diverse humans and Muppet children and monsters, Sesame Street aimed to provide a limited preschool curriculum that taught letters, numbers, some word recognition, and such values as mutual understanding all in a humorous, upbeat, and sometimes moving blend of song and sketch, live action and animation.

The show quickly caught the attention of children, parents, and educators and became a phenomenon. By developing Muppet characters representing children at different developmental stages, the show appealed to children of many different ages. As the American ethnic mix changed over its decades of airing, the human cast evolved to reflect those changes. The show was also copied around the world: the American original or one of seventeen locally produced versions play in more than 130 countries. By the late 1990s, young adults who had grown up on Sesame Street were having their own children—and becoming reacquainted with the show through them. Having educated tens of millions of children over the years, Sesame Street attained far-reaching impact.

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