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CATV (Brief History)

CATV or cable TV as is commonly known originated in 1948 over a mountainous terrain in Pennsylvania. The inventor John Walson had the idea of building a large antenna on top of a hill and redistrubuted the signals to homes in the surrounding areas for a fee. It started as a community antenna providing few local stations with clearer signal.

Over the years, cable TV evolved to include many local and satellite stations that can be picked up with a coaxial cable. However, the original idea of serving rural communities was abandoned as there are few homes in a vast area for a cable company to operate profitably. Instead, cable companies serve urban communities where signals are much stronger. People residing in remote areas has to settle for very few stations with an off-air antenna or a backyard dish.

In the 1970s & 80s there was a steady increase in cable TV subscription in places available. But by the turn of the century, there was competition from digital satellite providers. People can now install a dish less than half the size of the old backyard dishes and still pick up reasonable quality signals. There are also programs distributed over the Internet bypassing local signal providers altogether.

Today, cable TV provides many more stations including news networks and other specialty channels in a basic package as well as Pay-Per-View movie and stations from other countries. However, cable TV is not the best way to deliver digital broadcast to your location since signals are to be compressed into a narrow bandwidth for transmission. Also, the cable is connected to a receiving station many miles away where the signals must be amplified many times before reaching the destination. Free off-air digital broadcast can be picked up directly with an antenna with higher quality picture and sound.

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