The U.S. Congress and the National Cable Television Association agree and give credit to John Walson as being the founder of the cable television industry. The adage, “necessity is the mother of invention” is applicable to the invention of cable TV because had he not needed it, Mr. Walson may never have invented it.
In the mid 1940s, Walson opened an appliance shop by the name of The Service Electric Company where he sold General Electric appliances. In 1947, Walson began selling televisions, but because mountains surround the city in which he lived and sold appliances, Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, the nearby local stations would not come in over the airwaves.
After giving the trouble some thought, John Walson erected an antenna attached to a power pole on the top of a mountain not far from his shop. He used a cable to connect the antenna, with boosters along the way, all the way first to his warehouse and then to his store. In this manner, he could demonstrate to his customers that they too could possibly receive television reception from the local stations.
Soon, Walson was selling plenty of televisions, but his real business became the community antenna television (CATV) service. For a hook up fee of one hundred dollars and a two-dollar per month service fee, anyone in the area could hook up to the community antenna. Thus, Walson is the founder of the cable television industry.
John Walson did not quit there, however. Since that time, Walson was the first cable operator to use microwave to import distant television stations, he was the first cable operator to use coaxial cable for improved picture quality and he was the first cable operator to distribute premium pay television programming (HBO).
Of course, many other innovations have occurred in the world of satellite and cable TV over the years as well. As technology advanced so that people could shoot rockets and satellites into space, new means of broadcasting television emerged.
At first, satellite communications were limited to government officials because government entities were the only entities that had control over the satellites that they were sending out into space. The first satellite TV pictures from space came in 1963. On May 15, 1963, Gordon Cooper, an American astronaut flying in the rocket ship, Faith 7, became the first American to stay in space for more than twenty-four hours, the first American to sleep in space and the first person ever to transmit television pictures from space to the earth.
Before long, however, private industries began to launch their own satellites. In 1965, the Early Bird became the world’s first commercial communication satellite. The first commercial communications satellite was placed in service on June 28, 1965. The corporation that launched this satellite is still currently the largest supplier of satellite TV in the nation.
This satellite was a communications repeater that handled all types of common carrier network traffic. It included telephone, television, telegraph and facsimile transmissions and it was the forerunner of a synchronous satellite system that would furnish communications to all the populated areas of the world.