Pioneers of Cable Television

The Pennsylvania Founders of an Industry


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About the Book

Although there are different opinions about where cable television actually began, a great deal of the ingenuity that developed cable into today’s multibillion dollar industry came from Pennsylvania. In this state, with its mountainous geography, the need for an unusual means of obtaining a television signal gave birth to the community antenna television system that was the forerunner of the cable we know today.
This volume traces the history of cable television through biographical sketches of those who were instrumental in bringing this technology to rural Pennsylvania. Enumerating technical as well as financial obstacles, each chapter focuses on the life of a cable pioneer. The contributions of such men as John Walson, Bob Tarleton, George Gardner and Ralph Roberts are discussed and their relationships to each other examined. Information drawn from interviews with these men or people who knew them brings history to life. Topics include the roots of cable television, problems of early cable systems and the advent of HBO and its consequences. An appendix offers a commemorative history of the Pennsylvania Cable Network, a joint project of several men discussed herein.

About the Author(s)

Brian Lockman is the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania Cable Network in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Don Sarvey is a an independent writer and a communications consultant for Editorial Enterprises, Inc., based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Brian Lockman and Don Sarvey
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2314-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8272-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Introduction: The Pennsylvania Legacy      1

1. Head of the Class: John Walson      9
2. Hometown Hero: Bob Tarlton      25
3. Today Pottsville, Tomorrow the World: Martin Malarkey      41
4. The Great Salesman: Milton Shapp      62
5. Cable’s Mom and Pop: Joe and Irene Gans      85
6. The Man Who Worked Too Hard: George Gardner      104
7. The Right Man at the Right Time: George Barco      126
8. Shattered Icon: John Rigas      147
9. Ordinary Joes      164
10. The Ultimate Entrepreneur: Ralph Roberts      178

Appendix Only on Cable: The Pennsylvania Cable Network, by Don Sarvey      189
Notes      203
Bibliography      215
Index      219