Home Box Office began its life as an offshoot of Sterling Manhattan Cable, the first urban cable TV system in America. Beginning in 1972, HBO was offered as a premium add-on service on newly developed cable systems, and it was a major player in the early development of the cable TV industry and satellite distribution of TV programming. HBO established the model of the premium movie channel, and its early programming consisted mostly of unedited and commercial-free theatrical films, which cable subscribers were required to pay an additional fee to have access to.
By the early 1980s, the rapid increase in the availability of cable TV gave HBO a national presence, and the company began to diversify its programming content, which had already included the broadcast of some high-profile sporting events. HBO produced its first original film, The Terry Fox Story, and its first original children's programming, the series Fraggle Rock, in 1983.
HBO's original programming found widespread success beginning in the 1990s, when a number of its original series achieved ratings numbers previously unheard of on the network, along with a plethora of mainstream award nominations. Series such as Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, The Wire and Curb Your Enthusiasm gained both commercial and critical success, and HBO's original programming was widely considered to be among the most innovative on television.