It was on this date - January 6, 1975 - that "Wheel of Fortune" first aired. It was a daytime show, and for six years Chuck Woolery was its host.
Then, in a salary dispute in 1981 with Merv Griffin, the show's creator, he left and was replaced by Pat Sajak*. "And the rest," as they say, "is history."
[Evidently the dispute between Woolery and Griffin was quite bitter, and the rancor remained throughout the rest of Griffin's life.]
There have been other hosts, particularly in the two and a half year period when Pat Sajak left to host his own late night talk show, but - for the vast majority of that time between 1975 and now, it's been just the two.
Wiki has a pretty thorough recap of the daytime show here. Appropriately enough, it was last modified just today.
For those of you who have been enjoying and watching the nighttime version of "Wheel" and know that they were celebrating their 25th year, you might have wondered about the disparity. Why only 25 years? Why not 34? Well, it was the 25th anniversary year of the nighttime show, which debuted on September 19, 1983, that they were celebrating.
[Tammy, now, remembers watching the old shopping format. Don't think I ever saw any of those!]
Here is the Puzzle Board as it appeared through 1997,
and here's what it looks like now.
The million dollar wedge was added last year, and on October 14, 2008, someone actually went through all of the many and various hoops required to win it. It was very exciting, and I wrote about it briefly in this post.
For further details on the history of the nighttime version, updated just today as was the other, go here. Again, courtesy of Wiki.
*I've been saving a draft for a post on Pat Sajak since last April, and will edit and publish it tomorrow. Look for it, OK?