According to Etymology Online, the term pilot has been used since the 1920s to mean "serving as a prototype". It is this sense that you get terms like pilot episode for a TV Show, or pilot program for an emerging technology.
If you go back further in time, there was an old sense of pilot as far back as the 1600s meaning "to guide". For example, in ...
Not exactly, there are The Simpsons shorts which aired before "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".
The Simpsons shorts are a series of 48 one-minute shorts that ran on
the variety show The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, before the
characters spun off into The Simpsons, their own half-hour prime time
show. It features the Simpson family, which ...
On the contrary, I don't think that pilot episodes are often unaired. They are usually aired as a show's first episode unless there are issues with the production quality, the cast, or similar.
Most pilots are never publicly screened if they fail to sell a series. If a series eventuates, pilots are usually – but not always – broadcast as ...
Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire was indeed the series premiere of The Simpsons (although it was the 8th episode produced). But before that, the family debuted as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, some of which looked cruder than later ones. The Simpson's 138th Show Spectacular features some footage from these shorts.
It seems like they try to fudge it with this line in the second episode -
Tony Soprano: You know, you got a reputation for immaturity, and its not gonna be improved by not paying the tributes the acting boss demands of you.
Brendan Filone: Acting boss my ass Ton'. Come on, everybody knows you really run things since Jackie became the Kemosabe.
Based on the following I've concluded that Tony was in fact the boss in the pilot.
No mention of Jackie
Junior says "you may run north jersey but you don't run your uncle Junior" to Tony. North Jersey is the Sopranos territory. If Junior and Tony were both caporegimes and at the same level, like in the second episode, this quote wouldn't make ...
There is no standard practice for TV pilots (failed or otherwise), as their possessors will have different intentions. Some, but not all, successful pilots are deployed as the maiden episode of a TV series, with the rest of the show built off the back of it; others require recasting, and the pilot itself is buried or re-shot for consistency.
Failed pilots, ...
As others have said, there were several hints in the pilot episode, indicating that Tony was in fact the boss. But another reason that has yet to be mentioned is the fact that the pilot episode was originally supposed to be a movie, and David Chase was not certain that HBO would pick it up. He was later convinced to make the Sopranos into a TV series. ...
A Pilot episode is like a Pilot light, a small flame that is used to start a bigger fire. If the pilot goes out, there can be no fire. If the pilot fails to get an audience interested, there can be no show. A Pilot light or burner is a well known term prior to the first use of pilot episode, predating it by 70 years.