On August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV: Music Television launched with the words "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," spoken by John Lack. Those words were immediately followed by the original MTV theme song, a crunching guitar riff written by Jonathan Elias and John Petersen, playing over a montage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. With the flag having a picture of MTVs logo on it. MTV producers Alan Goodman and Fred Seibert used this public domain footage as a conceit, associating MTV with the most famous moment in world television history. Seibert said they had originally planned to use Neil Armstrong's "One small step" quote, but lawyers said Armstrong owns his name and likeness, and Armstrong had refused, so the quote was replaced with a beeping sound.
At the moment of its launch, only a few thousand people on a single cable system in northern New Jersey could see it.