Courtesy of Hulu.com and the NBC News Time Capsule, those in the United States can watch portions of the very first episode of NBC’s Today (also known as The Today Show), originally broadcast on Monday, January 14th, 1952 from 7-9AM. Apparently, during its first few years on the air the show actually ran for three hours but only two were shown in any given time zone (currently, it can run for up to four hours and I believe it is only aired live in the Eastern and Central time zones). I believe this has been available since at least 2008.
According to a title card at the start of the video, only forty-five minutes of the two-hour premiere still exist:
The first half-hour and the final quarter-hour of Today’s debut are preserved on film, and are presented here in their entirety.
The first portion ends at roughly 7:29AM on the East Coast with a break and returns at 8:44AM. Host Dave Garroway signs off with the following:
I see it is time to say goodbye to our eastern zone listeners. And to sincerely, and I’ll stand up to say this because I mean it that way, thank you for being with us on our very first Today show. Like I say we’ve got lots of bugs but we’ll try to get them out and give you a smooth, interesting, musical, and informative and freedom making show on television in the morning. Thank you, goodbye and ’til tomorrow morning, peace.
The video then continues with a fifteen-minute segment from the January 14th, 1977 episode of Today in which Tom Brokaw speaks with guests Dave Garroway, Jack Lescoulie and Frank Blair (two early correspondents) as well as former NBC chief Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, who created Today. The video is dedicated to Weaver (who died in 2002) and Garroway (who died in 1982).
Exactly when it was produced is a mystery to me.
Friday, February 12th, 2009 Update: ejp has noted in the comments that this is an updated version of an episode of an MSNBC program called Time And Again from 1997. I also wonder if the remaining portions of the first broadcast exist or any other early episodes. Does NBC have a large collection of Today shows?
The NBC News Time Capsule also contains footage from a variety of important events including the Apollo 11 Moon landing, the Summer of Love, Vietnam 1968, the Kennedy Inauguration, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and more.