In June of 1978, Roone Arledge’s first news magazine hit the airwaves. It was called 20/20 and created to compete with 60 Minutes, the show that originated the genre. While Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters may be most closely associated with the early days of the program, they were not the original anchors. Harold Hayes and Robert Hughes anchored the first show. But that first edition was nothing short of a disaster and they were quickly replaced. The show featured Jimmy Carter and Walter Cronkite represented by puppets doing short comical bits. Critics were not kind when writing their reviews. As a result, Downs was asked to take over as anchor. Walters joined him in 1981 as something slightly less than a co-anchor, though she officially became his equal three years later. This reunited a duo that had already anchored together on NBC’s Today from 1964 to 1971.
The first couple of 20/20 shows used an unknown theme without the ABC News emblem. (They reportedly also used the World News Tonight theme during this first season.) In 1979 they started using their own theme, which they would use for many years to come. It is composed by Walt Levinsky for Score Productions.