Originally, daytime drama could be heard across the USA via radio. Unlike the hour long programs you and I watch today, these radio broadcasts lasted a mere 15 minutes with the commercials in between the shows largely focused on selling laundry detergents and cleaning solutions. This in fact was where the term 'Soap Opera' originated.
Mid-way into the 40's, soap operas began their run on daytime television. They focused on family interpersonal relationships, marital strife, some form of legal drama and what all soap fans want to see - romance. Soap operas have since evolved over the years. They've developed into adventure story lines, producing 'super couples', (couples who stay together above all odds) along with high stakes business intrigue, miraculous resurrection, and the supernatural.
This is all in a day's work!
Soap Operas are serial dramas. Their ongoing dramatic story lines are part of the lure for a soap fan. Part of the captivation of soaps is caused by the stage set up. The lavish, yet darkly accentuated sets leave viewers daydreaming about what luxurious homes they could have, while the added touch of lighting technique ensures that all actors look their very best at all times, thus guaranteeing fans to fall for the gorgeous actors and actresses, making the show that much more exciting.
The first soap ever heard was on the radio, in the 1930's, in the United States of America. It aired during daytime hours, aiming the target audience at busy homemakers.
The term 'Soap Opera' was coined at this time, because of the nature of the commercials being aired, during the shows.
In the 1940's, the airing of soaps had evolved, airing on television with the debut of "Faraway Hill." Short lived, it was followed by "These are my Children," and then "Hawkins Falls," which began its run June of 1950.
The longest running soap is actually the longest running drama in broadcast history, The Guiding Light. The soap started in 1937 and held strong for nearly seventy years! [Editor's note: The show's run ended in its 72nd year, in 2009.]