Hillenburg initially conceived the show in 1984 and began to work on it shortly after the cancellation of Rocko's Modern Life in 1996. To voice the character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life. The show was originally to be called "SpongeBoy Ahoy!," but the name "SpongeBoy" was already in use for a mop product. Upon finding it out, Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob." He chose "SquarePants" as a family name, as it referred to the character's square shape and it had a "nice ring to it."
After the pilot ("Help Wanted") was produced, Hillenburg was unsure if the show would be approved for a full season. In an interview, he said how he was perfectly fine with the accomplishment of just making one episode. When the show was greenlit for a full series, Nickelodeon only ordered six episodes (twelve 11-minute segments) for the season. Both Hillenburg and the network had low expectations for the show; Hillenburg thought the crew would only "make twelve shows and get canceled." The season was extended for fourteen additional segments—starting with segment #113, "The Chaperone"—after positive reactions from the studio.
In 1999, Nickelodeon released a press statement summarizing the first four episodes. At the time, these episodes were planned to be released in production order: "Help Wanted," "Tea at the Treedome," "Squeaky Boots," and "Jellyfishing." Sometime in April 1999, Nickelodeon decided to air the episodes in a different order instead, called the "packaging order." This order does not relate to production or airing order, and it most notably moved "Squeaky Boots" (the third produced segment overall) to episode 8b, much later than it was produced.
This is the only season to use traditional cel-animation.
This is one of two seasons only to not have any double-length episodes, with the other being season 10.