Behind the scenes at CNN, ca. 1981.

Local media mogul Ted Turner launched Cable News Network (CNN) in June 1980, the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage. Headquartered in Atlanta, Turner’s all-news channel was a big gamble and no one was sure that it would succeed.

In 1982, the network launched the spin-off channel Headline News (HLN), which strictly focused on rolling news coverage in half-hour time slots, while CNN provided a mix of newscasts and specialized topical and featured news programs.

Ted Turner at a ceremony for CNN’s launch, June 1, 1980.

In 1985, Turner purchased the Omni International hotel on Marietta Street and renamed it CNN Center. Housing the network’s studios and offices, CNN Center was a key component in the revitalization of downtown Atlanta.

CNN’s coverage of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, being the only news outlet reporting from inside Iraq during the American bombing campaign, lifted the cable channel’s ratings past the Big Three U.S. news networks – ABC, CBS, NBC – for the first time. CNN changed how Americans see and process news. Before the cell phone and the Internet, people could turn to CNN and watch history unfold before their eyes.

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