Exactly 60 years ago today, on October 19, 1955 the Eurovision song contest was born in Rome, Italy. The idea was inspired the annual Sanremo festival in Italy and Marcel Bezençon is considered the father of the contest. In Rome's General Assambly of the EBU (born itself five years earlier) the idea was approved and Switzerland agreed to host the very first contest next May in Lugano. The first steps forward the born of the song contest were taken earlier in January in Monaco.
No one could have thought Grand prix Eurovision de la Chanson would be the world's biggest single entertainment show 60 years later gathering together more than 40 countries!
'to encourage the creation of original songs and to stimulate, by means of an international competition, a spirit of friendly rivalry between writers and composers'
The contest has helped newly born nations find their identity and visibility and made the old ones question their strenghts and political status over the years, besides starting (and killing) a few careers.
The name Eurovision was picked up by accident by journalist George Campey. He was writing an article and "European television" simply felt too long for the headline, so he put them together. Euro-vision was born.
Read more about the early history of the contest and what does the Festival of British popular songs have to do with it, for example, here.