NBC debuted as a radio network in 1926, with a logo depicting a microphone surrounded by lightning bolts, superimposed over a map of the United States of America. The "NBC" letters appeared in an arc above the graphic images.
In 1931, NBC introduced its second logo – a square with a diagonal NBC text in it, and lightning bolts around the "B". This logo was later adopted in 1944 for use as the original logo for the newly formed NBC television network.
In 1943, NBC introduced its third logo, a microphone surrounded by lightning bolts, which was a modification of the original 1926 logo used by the NBC radio network. Lightning bolts were also part of the logo of corporate parent RCA, as well as that of one-time sister company RKO Pictures. The waves placed on the left side were meant for the radio network, and the right waves were meant for the television network.
On January 1, 1954, a stylized xylophone and mallet was introduced, accompanied by the NBC chimes, which were first heard on NBC radio in 1927 as a seven-tone sequence. The current tones – which were first adopted in 1929 as a simplified cue for identification of its radio affiliates because of issues with orchestrating the seven notes properly – are only three notes, G, E' and C' (contrary to popular belief, the selection of the three notes was not intended to represent the initials of the network's eventual owner, the General Electric Company, which was an early shareholder in RCA, which itself founded NBC by creating it as a subsidiary).
On May 22, 1956, NBC started using a new logo for their color programming. The first logo showed the "wire" feathers of the peacock fanning out into color feathers (colored in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet), accompanied by a majestic orchestral tune. The original peacock is a lucky find today. In 1962, the network changed the logo, and this new variant was known by many as the "Laramie Peacock". It was shown on a kaleidoscopic background as a softer, woodwind-based, tune played, while the NBC peacock fanned its feathers and then transformed into the logo from before. This logo was accompanied by a voiceover which narrated, "The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC."
Starting in late 1959, an animated logo joined the Peacock, appearing at the end of every show. Starting with the "N", each letter would grow from the other, forming a stacked typographic logo ending with the "C", forming the base. This would be known as the "NBC snake".
Several versions of this exist; the first is the snake forming in front of a multicolored background while a camera passed by with a jazz rendition of the NBC chimes, while the second consists of the snake forming against a color-changing background, going from blue to green to red, on each note of the regular, automated NBC chimes. The logo was also designed by John J. Graham.
NBC updated its image in 1975 with the introduction of an abstract "N", a bold, bright and contemporary design consisting of two trapezoids – one red and one blue. One of the technological innovations of this logo was its use in the first electronically animated ident for an American television network.
The Peacock returned as part of NBC's branding in September 1979. The "N" and the Peacock were combined together to create a design called the "Proud N". This marked the first time that the Peacock was actually part of NBC's own logo. It was simplified in keeping with the letter's pared-down design. Although all eleven feathers were intact, the teardrop tips were merged into the rest of the feathers, while a simpler color scheme was used for the feathers themselves (blue for the feather behind the peacock's body; yellow, orange, red, indigo and purple respectively for the other feathers on both sides). The Peacock's body became a simple triangular shape, without any feet. The 1979 Proud N logo was designed by Lippincott & Margulies.
A new simplified logo created by Chermayeff & Geismar was revealed in January 1986. During the finale of its 60th Anniversary Celebration special, it was introduced on May 12. The peacock's 11 feathers of its previous peacock logo were pared down to six to represent NBC's six divisions: News (yellow), Sports (orange), Entertainment (red), Stations (purple), Network (blue), and Productions (green). The peacock is facing the right.
On September 12, 2011, NBC introduced a 3D glass version of the logo for use in promotional advertising and idents. However, the 2006 color bug used for HD programming and elements of the More Colorful rebrand remained in use. After its introduction, a few NBC stations incorporated the glassed variant to their station logos, with Chicago O&O WMAQ-TV becoming the first to do so in February 2012.
On September 30, 2013, NBC revised its 3D crystallized peacock, incorporating the "NBC" typeface below the logo in the same font variant introduced by NBC Sports with the 2012 relaunch of the Versus cable sports channel as NBC Sports Network. This modification was extended to the in-program logo bug on June 10, 2013.