November 25, 2012 - Anniversary of the Development of Cable Television

Cable TV is one of those things that was invented by a lot of different people, working separately but far apart.

If you Google “Who invented cable TV?” you will get several different answers. No matter who is claimed as the inventor, though, the timing is roughly the same: cable TV became a thing in 1948.

Now, why would anyone pay for cable TV when they could just “pluck” broadcasts out of the air for free? The answer is that many people couldn't get broadcast TV because they lived in a remote area or a valley—places where the television signals weren't floating around, accessible to the ordinary antenna on a TV set. So bright people here and there erected large antennas on a hilltop or tall building and then ran a cable from that antenna to the televisions.

One of the guys who did this was Ed Parsons from Astoria, Oregon.

Parsons owned a radio station, and so he was in the “broadcast business.” His wife had seen a TV at a broadcasters' convention, and she wanted one. Parsons heard that a radio station in Seattle was going to begin to broadcast TV signals, so he put a large antenna on the roof of the Astoria Hotel. He then ran a coaxial cable from the antenna, across the street to his apartment, to a television set that he bought.

And on this date in 1948, Ed Parsons and his wife became the only people in Astoria that could watch television in their home!

Of course, other people heard about it and wanted to be able to watch TV, too, so soon Parsons was installing cable TV in other peoples' homes, as well. (He didn't charge a monthly cable TV charge, but he did of course have people pay for the materials and his work in running cable from his antenna to their brand-new television sets.)

By the way, one of the other names for early cable TV was CATV, or Community Antenna Television.

Also on this date:

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