It helped fill a hole in satellite broadcasting bandwidth created by the loss of RCA's Satcom 3 in 1979. Unlike satellite owners RCA and Western Union, Hughes did not lease time on their transponders in the fashion of a common carrier, but instead sold transponders outright to content providers. This created a stable lineup of content attractive enough for cable providers to dedicate earth station receivers to it full-time.
In 1992, Galaxy 1 was replaced by Galaxy 5 as the predominant cable television signal carrier, when a majority of satellite television services were relocated onto that satellite. It was originally slated for retirement in 1992 and replacement by Galaxy 1R, but the replacement was lost during launch on August 22, 1992, due to a failure of the booster rocket's second stage Centaur engine; it was eventually replaced in 1994 by Galaxy 1RR.
The HBO (Home Box Office) signal on transponder 23 of Galaxy 1 was interrupted during the infamous Captain Midnight attack on April 27, 1986. The attack was directed at HBO for their adoption of the Videocipher system and for charging high prices for access to the HBO and Cinemax services with that system.
Payloads are separated by bullets ( · ), launches by pipes ( | ). Manned flights are indicated in bold text. Uncatalogued launch failures are listed in italics. Payloads deployed from other spacecraft are denoted in (brackets).