Once Upon a Time in America – The Background Story of Cable TV
The original offshoot that was later to be developed into the full-blown cable TV system started in the deep, mountainous heartland of Pennsylvania. This was way back in 1948, and the invention still in its cradle was then known as CATV- Community Antenna Television.
This early prototype, the CATV, was invented by television pioneers John and Margaret Walson. This development took place at springtime, 1948, and by then the Walson’s Service Electricity Company had been up and running for quite a few years. They opened it in order to serve people in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, to install and repair General Electric appliances that had become every household’s must-have.
They also began to sell television sets but the bad reception in the area became the original incentive for the first development of cable TV. Mahanoy was a city put smack dab in the middle of the big, black Pennsylvanian mountain ridge, and with steep cliffs surrounding them in every direction, the broadcasting signals from the three nearby Philadelphia stations had problems reaching the homes of the residents of Mahanoy undisturbed.
John Walson was probably not aware that he took a small step for man but a giant leap for cable TV as he climbed a mountain top in the vicinity of Mahanoy and tied a television antenna to a utility pole.
The effects in form of a clearer signal from the Philadelphia networks were evident to John Walson as he connected the mountain antenna to his electric store. He had found a way to modify and boost the antenna signal, and he led it into his store via cable. Hence, cable TV was born.
Now he had several customers living alongside John Walson’s newly cable route, and he quickly managed to hook their homes up with the benefits of this new invention yet to be called cable TV. This event has been recognized as the first successful attempt of an organized CATV system.
U.S congress and The National Cable TV Association have since then officially acknowledged John Walson’s efforts in this area, attributing him as the founder of the cable television industry.
But that was not all that the driven man managed to do during his lifetime. The inventor of cable TV took it one step further, and developed a way to utilize microwave signals to pick up broadcasts from distant television stations and he was also the first person to use coaxial cable in order to present households with a more pregnant picture.
For the true cable TV aficionado though, he might be most famous for being the first person to distribute pay television programming. So he was not only the pioneer of cable TV, he was also the pioneer of that beautiful thing that the television fan refers to as HBO.
John himself was a humble man, he did not let the successes of his life go to his head, and he stayed put in Mahanoy City selling electrical gadgets out of his retail store during the remainder of his days.