Remember when TLC used to be called 'The Learning Channel'?

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Remember When TLC Used To Be Called 'The Learning Channel'?


When taking a look at TLC's programming, it's sort of hard to remember that TLC at one time stood for The Learning Channel.

What once was a channel dedicated to educational programming, is now known for extreme reality shows like "19 Kids and Counting," "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" and "Hoarding: Buried Alive."

Hard to believe TLC was originally founded as an instructional channel by NASA and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1972. It was — back then — known as the Appalachian Community Service Network.

Eight years later, the ownership of the channel was privatized and its name was changed to The Learning Channel. It showcased documentaries on a variety of topics, like "Paleoworld" and "Amazing Space."

Those documentaries evolved into more reality-style educational programming like "A Baby Story" and "Medical Detectives" in the late 1990s.

Those led to home improvement shows like "Trading Spaces" and the popular "What Not to Wear," in which a person underwent a complete makeover each episode.

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Remember when TLC used to be called 'The Learning Channel'?
In this Sept. 11, 2013, photo, Brady Williams poses with his wives, from left to right, Paulie, Robyn, Rosemary, Nonie, and Rhonda, outside of their home in a polygamous community outside Salt Lake City. Brady Williams has five wives, 24 children but no organized religion. The latest polygamous family from Utah to open its lives to America via reality TV is a tried and true plural family. The kids range from age 2 to 20, and five are named Brady. A one-hour special called "My Five Wives" is set to air Sunday on TLC offering a glimpse into the family's life. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 10, 2012, file photo, beauty pageant regular and reality show star Alana "Honey Boo Boo" Thompson speaks during an interview as her mother, June Shannon, looks on in her home in McIntyre, Ga. On Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, the TLC network canceled the “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” series, following published reports that Shannon was in a relationship with a man who had a criminal past. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
In this Aug. 2, 2007 file photo, Michelle Duggar, left, is surrounded by her children and husband Jim Bob, tsecond from left, after the birth of her 17th child in Rogers, Ark. The Duggars announced on Friday, May 9, 2008 that they are expecting their 18th child. (AP Photo/ Beth Hall, File)

"My Strange Addiction"

(Photo via TLC)

"My Big Fat Fabulous Life"

(Photo via TLC)

Preston “Pret” and Megan Dahlgren kiss during an interview Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, near Salt Lake City. Two Utah men set to appear in the reality TV show “My Husband’s Not Gay,” say they’re fulfilled in their relationships to their wives even though they’re attracted to other men. The show’s concept has come under fire since it was announced by the TLC network last month. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Jeff Bennion and his wife Tanya kiss in front of their home, Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, near Salt Lake City. Two Utah men set to appear in the reality TV show “My Husband’s Not Gay,” say they’re fulfilled in their relationships to their wives even though they’re attracted to other men. The show’s concept has come under fire since it was announced by the TLC network last month. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS INC - Theresa Caputo, from TLC's Long Island Medium, is seen at the Discovery Communications 2014 Upfront Presentation at Jazz Lincoln Center, in New York City, on April 3, 2014. (Mark Von Holden/ AP Images for Discovery Communications Inc)

"Hoarding: Buried Alive"

(Photo via TLC)

Isabella Barrett attends Isabella Barrett's from TLC's Toddlers and Tiaras Reality Weekly Launch Event to benefit her anti-bullying bracelets at the Providence Marriott Downtown Hotel on December 29, 2011 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Marc Andrew Deley/GettyImages)
From 'Jon + Kate Plus 8' Kate Gosselin and her children attend the Discovery Upfront event at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Discovery)
In this March 27, 2010 photo, Buddy Valastro, of the TLC show "Cake Boss," unveils the 30th anniversary cake he made for Bally's Atlantic City in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Sean M. Fitzgerald)

"What Not to Wear"

(Photo via TLC)

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Then in the late 2000s, TLC programming started moving in a totally different direction. Goodbye educational. Hello drama.

There was the infamous Jon and Kate Gosselin in "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

And the equally drama-filled "Toddlers and Tiaras," where audiences got to watch parents force their three-year-olds to compete in beauty pageants.

"Bella, do you like pageants?"

"No! No, no, no!"

An entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times told CNN in 2010, "TLC is doing what a lot of other cable networks have done... If you look at the History Channel, there's not an awful lot of history on it anymore."

And focusing on the bizarre has worked for TLC.

Back in October, a record 4.4 million people tuned in to watch Jill Duggar get married on "19 Kids and Counting," making it the highest rated episode of the series ever.

And in January, the premieres of "Kate Plus 8" and "My Big Fat Fabulous Life" raked in enough viewers, 1.8 million and 1.3 million respectively, to help TLC beat out Lifetimeand Bravo in the ratings.

It looks like the bizarre is here to stay, though. TLC announced its new lineup of shows for later this year includes a marriage show where parents get to pick their child's future spouse and a series about a man who recently learned he's the King of the Isle of Mann.

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