Matt Groening was born on February 15, 1954, in Portland, Oregon. Born between older sisters Patty and Lisa and younger siblings Mark and Maggie. Though he later borrowed some of their names for characters in The Simpsons, the real members of Groening's family bore little resemblance to their cartoon namesakes. After growing up an artistic kid in Portland, Groening attended Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, a nontraditional public university, he was the editor of the campus newspaper and an avid cartoonist. Though he loved cartooning, he never considered it a viable career option. "I thought I was going to make crazy cartoons for the rest of my life," Groening said. "I didn't think I'd ever get paid for it, didn't think I drew well enough, but I knew it made me happy." change happened when Groening met fellow Evergreen student and cartoonist Lynda Barry. Inspired by Barry's ability to make a living selling her comics to alternative papers, and influenced by other underground cartoonists like Robert Crumb, Groening graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to work as a writer. After spending a few years working miserable part-time jobs, Groening sold his comic strip "Life in Hell" to the alternativeLA Weekly in 1980. "Life in Hell" soon gained nationwide syndication, earning Groening a huge following and spawning books and collections. Groening still writes the comic, which ran in LA Weekly until 2009, when the struggling paper could no longer afford to pay him. The success of "Life in Hell" attracted the attention of a writer and producer named James L. Brooks, who contacted Groening to see if he'd be interested in creating a series of animated shorts to run on the sketch comedy series The Tracey Ullman Show. Groening invented a dysfunctional family whose names he mostly borrowed from his own parents and siblings. The Simpsons family premiered on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Ullman's show was soon canceled, but the Simpsons were popular enough to earn their own spin-off series, which premiered in 1989. The satire took aim at teachers, parents, ministers, police officers and other authority figures, all of whom are often portrayed as small-minded buffoons. The show's iconoclastic approach garnered criticism from family-values advocates, but won it rabid devotion from its fans. The show has now been on the air for several decades, earning multiple Emmy Awards as well as the title of the longest-running entertainment series in primetime television—succeeding Gunsmoke in 2009—along the way. Generations of comedy writers (among them a young Conan O'Brien) have cut their teeth on the show's distinctive jokes and pop-culture references. More than 20 million viewers tuned in for the 20th anniversary episode in January 2010.