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Sunday, April 26th, 2015
36 Years Ago Today

Here's a sign-off from HBO (Home Box Office), from back in the days when they did sign off (the pioneering cable TV channel switched to a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week schedule on December 28, 1981, after going 24 hours on weekends that September).

The sign-off consisted of an animated film with people all heading off to bed for the night, from all directions, accompanied by instrumental music that almost screamed '70's, down to the omnipresent conga drums and a low tom drum which was also the preferred percussion for some recordings of that decade. The HBO logo shown was the one where the O overshadowed the B in the logo (not taking its current shape until after going 24/7).

This clip also includes:

End of the 1976 mystery spoof Murder by Death

Promo for the HBO On Location special with Martin Mull, spotlighting the Fernwood 2-Night / America 2-Night star's talents as a singer-songwriter

This aired on April 27, 1979.

HBO Sign-Off (1979)

Here's a sign-off from HBO (Home Box Office), from back in the days when they did sign off (the pioneering cable TV channel switched to a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week schedule on December 28th 1981, after going 24 hours on weekends that September).

The sign-off consisted of an animated film with people all heading off to bed for the night, from all directions, accompanied by instrumental music that almost screamed '70's, down to the omnipresent conga drums and a low tom drum which was also the preferred percussion for some recordings of that decade. The HBO logo shown was the one where the O overshadowed the B in the logo (not taking its current shape until after going 24/7). Also, take a look (around the 0:58 mark) at the silhouette of a nighttime skyline with window lights going out one by one, which was reminiscent of the opening/closing of The Late Show on some CBS-owned stations in the 1960's, namely WCBS Channel 2 in New York City (as seen here), and presumably Chicago's own WBBM Channel 2.

This clip includes:

End of the 1976 mystery spoof Murder by Death

Promo for the HBO On Location special with Martin Mull, spotlighting the Fernwood 2-Night / America 2-Night star's talents as a singer-songwriter (among his more famous compositions was "Dancing in the Nude" which was covered in a famous Benny Hill Show musical number, and "A Girl Named Johnny Cash" which was a minor country hit in 1970 for legendary singer Jane Morgan) (main voiceover by Les Marshak) (ending voiceover by ??)

HBO Sign-Off, followed in that order by what sounded like multiple super-speed touch-tone phone dialing, and finally EIA RS-189A color bars and 1 kHz tone.

This aired on local Chicago TV (via cable) early Friday, April 27th 1979 at about 12:35am.

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This clip aired on Friday, April 27th 1979, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

I've got a real soft spot for this sign-off. Having said that, I really hope that a 1972-74 HBO sign-off will turn up at some point.
Comment posted by OddityArchive on Friday, October 11th 2013 at 9:34pm.

By the looks of it, HBO in its day didn't run 24/7 in its virgin heyday, if you could call it that. For somewhere on YouTube, the HBO sign-on (roughly 3PM ET/2PM CT) was not as entertaining, but a simple, warm greeting with a static shot of an HBO graphic. And this was at a time when cable TV was only available in the suburbs; just local and distant broadcast channels, HBO, the now defunct Home Theater Network (HTN) and channels such as C-SPAN, CBN, PTL, USA Network, and superstations such as WTBS from Atlanta and WOR-TV from NY.

I know Showtime debuted around this period, and they had an interesting sign-off, but with an announcer calling it a day, followed by a reprise of the early computer graphic Showtime ident. I'd love to see the sign-on if it's somewhere out there.

And after every film or special, Showtime played the DTMF tones just before it's station identification in one strand, as opposed to what is heard in the HBO clip. (They would continue doing this even when they went 24 hours.)


Comment posted by Detroit4Chicago on Saturday, October 12th 2013 at 6:05am.

The tones of course were a signal that the network was switching off the link to the satellite up-link.
Comment posted by VisaMan on Monday, October 14th 2013 at 3:14am.

CBC and Radio-Canada did the dialing for a while before going 24/7/365.
Comment posted by VintageCanada on Sunday, October 20th 2013 at 7:20pm.

I miss the DTMF tones! I remember when cable was first starting to pick up speed in the early 80's and I would go to a friend's home to watch Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon. My family did not get cable in my youth so whenever I heard those special tones, I embraced the moment!
Comment posted by michaeljchicago on Sunday, April 27th 2014 at 2:50pm.

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This clip has been viewed 1813 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Thursday, October 10th 2013.
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