The History and Pioneers of Cable Television
In the early 20th Century, inventors were working hard to create a way to broadcast images over the airwaves to be received and viewed. The idea came from the invention of the radio which used a transmitter to send out audio signals. As early as 1928, the first over air broadcasts began on an experimental basis, and with continued work on this concept, the first television stations and television sets started to be introduced by the early 1940’s.
The spread of television programming started, and by the 1950’s and 1960’s, television sets began to appear in more homes. However, the broadcasting was limited by technology as well as geography. Television sets relied on the use of antennae either on the set itself or on the roof of a home. However, if you were in a rural area, mountainous area or even in a heavily populated urban area with large buildings, receiving the television signals could be quite a challenge.
Because of the difficulty of some people receiving regular broadcast signals because of the geography of the area, cable television first came on the scene during the late 1940’s in a very limited area. The first cable television broadcasts came about because of people not being able to receive over the air broadcasts. As an alternative to regular broadcast and cable broadcast, satellite broadcast would offer premium channels without requiring hookup to a cable network using coaxial cable. Soon, HD content became a demand. Satellite and cable broadcasting would require improved connections to the TV, such as HDMI cable. Since these modest beginnings, the industry of cable television has seen a tremendous boom.
Over the course of time, cable television has evolved into a major force in the television industry. Through pioneers such as Ted Turner and his creation of the Superstation WTBS which became one o the first stations distributed across the county. Another pioneer is Charles Dolan, whose company introduced the variety of movies and special programming of HBO to the world. And in the area of sports, ESPN became the first network to television sporting events and other sporting programming around the clock.
With the growth of the internet, many television networks offer their shows online. This allows them to increase their reach and let watchers view the shows on their own time. These shows can be enjoyed on networks' websites or through services such as Netflix or Hulu. Even though TV on the internet offers the luxuries of watching when you want and with fewer commercials, many people still miss the feeling of using their TV and couch rather than a monitor and office chair. To help with this situation, PC to TV converters were developed to bridge the gap. Some of these converters combine technological advancements like the HDMI protocol to more easily and more powerfully interface computers and HDTVs.
Today, cable television broadcasting reaches the vast majority of homes, and helps to offer a wide variety of programming choices for people of all ages, and continues to grow stronger every day.
Birth of the Television
- Television Technology – Look at the various historical periods in the technology of television.
- History of Television – Helpful page providing background information on the invention of the television.
- Television Broadcast History – Useful sideshow providing viewers with information on the advent of broadcast television.
- History of Cable – Information on the reasoning why television turned to cable for distributing programming.
- TV and Broadcast History Resources – Good collection of resources providing background for TV and broadcasting history.
- Timeline of Television History – Useful page with key dates on the history of television and broadcasting.
Television and Cable Restrictions
- Evolution of Cable Television – FCC information on the growth and history behind cable television.
- Regulating Television – Informative article giving information on the regulations in television.
- The Public and Broadcasting – Information on the types of regulations that are in place for the industry.
- Deregulation – Information on how the industry has loosened its regulatory grip in time.
- History of Cable Regulation – Useful source of information on how cable has been regulated in history.
- Cable Regulation in the Satellite Era – Well written article outlining how cable in regulated during the period of satellite growth.
- Program Content Regulations – Government information on the regulations that are in place governing programming content.
History and Growth of Cable
- Cable Television in the U.S. – Information from the Museum of Broadcasting Communication about cable TV history.
- History of Cable Television – Useful page with information about the origins and growth of cable TV.
- Cable Television History – Summary of the major events in the history of cable television.
- Cable Television Timeline – Timeline of the events leading to the growth of cable TV.
- History of Cable for Kids – A kid-friendly look at the world-changing events of cable television.
- History of Cable TV – Informative page giving readers an overview of cable television history.
- The History of Cable TV – Helpful page giving us a look at the cable television changes in time.
- History of Television and Cable – Video of a presentation about the history of cable and broadcast television.
- Robert Tarleton – Biographical information on the individual who created the first commercial cable system in 1950 in Pennsylvania.
- L.E. Parsons – Information on the man who is thought of as the father of CATV.
- The Freeze of 1948 – Information on the FCC freeze on granting television licenses in 1948, which helped lead to the growth of cable.
- MTV – Information on the pioneer in presenting music videos to the public.
- Ted Turner – Useful biographical information on the life of Ted Turner who was one of the pioneers of cable broadcasting.
- Charles Dolan – Informative look at the creator of HBO and other cable properties.
- Superstation TBS – A look at the first truly countrywide station that was available in all markets.
- HBO – Ground breaking channel which presented movies, concerts, live events and more to the public.
- ESPN – Sports pioneer which started to present 24 hour programming of live and recorded sports and other events.
The improvements and availability of broadcast television naturally led to an improvement in televisions themselves and the room they are housed in. Televisions have grown from their modest start of black and white 3-inch screens to high-definition color in as large as 80-inches today. Even with the large size of screens, televisions are hung on the wall with an LCD wall mount for a clean appearance and to minimize space. Recessed power outlets hide the cables and provide power to the seemingly floating screen. Home theater equipment gets hidden in a seperate cabinet, which utilizes ir extender to ensure the remote's signal is received. Surround sound is the coup de grace to fully engulf the audience in a complete audio, video experience.