"Late Night with David Letterman" debuted on NBC February 1, 1982 and represented a kind of blood transfusion into the moldering carcass of after hours television. Created by Johnny Carson's production company at the urging of then NBC boss Fred Silverman, Late Night's mandate was to give young men who had little or no interest in Carson's parade of old-school superstars something to watch in the wee hours. Carson, through his production company, made it clear that Letterman's new show had to break new ground; he didn't want it to be seen as simply the second hour of "The Tonight Show". To that end a representative of Carson's production company was a given the task of keeping an eye on the new show to make sure there wasn't any conceptual overlap. There wasn't.

Offbeat, irreverent, unpredictable and occasionally (though not intentionally) confrontational Late Night soon became must see viewing for young adults (especially college students) and grabbed itself a much larger audience share for NBC than they had had with its predecessor; "Tom Snyder Coast to Coast".

Though in his first monologue Letterman was obviously nervous and played down his prospects in time he'd become a fixture in the moonlit television landscape nearly rivaling his mentor Carson.

Here's the opening of the very first "Late Night with David Letterman Show" from February 1, 1982.