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Cookie, Big Bird, and Oscar

Today marks 45 years since the debut of Sesame Street, the first show designed for preschoolers. In his book The Tipping Point, author Malcolm Gladwell says of the show: “Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.” That approach has allowed the show to grow to reach an audience in more than 140 countries. With 159 Emmy Awards under its belt, its excellence is unquestionable.

Music has been one of they keys to the show’s success, and some of the music industry’s leading lights have graced its set over the years, everyone from Johnny Cash to Beyonce and most everything in between. This super groovy pinball themed counting clip demonstrates how the show’s innovative mix music and animation teaches basic concepts in a catchy way.

The introduction of Elmo(as voiced by Kevin Clash) in the 1980s brought a new kind of character — one who himself was the same age as the target audience. He became a cultural phenomenon, with toys in his likeness becoming best-selling must haves.

Generations of adults grew up with Sesame Street as kids, and the show continues to teach in its uniquely entertaining way, as seen in this recent clip featuring Grover and SC native Aziz Ansari: