Cable television had been around since the late 1940′s when someone figured out how to import over-the-air signals to non-receiving areas. Usually, this was behind a hill or mountain. In 1957, the first premium cable-movie service began. Of all places – Oklahoma.
Most early cable systems used the 12-channel VHF spectrum, so – there was always an empty channel. It wasn’t long before someone figured out – they could offer alternative programming even with this limited channel space.
In places such as Philadelphia, where – all-of-a-sudden, there were three commercial UHF -TV stations – cable proved to be a huge benefit to those stations and viewers. Over-the-air UHF required more “technical” skills to warrant a clear picture. With cable – no such thing – as VHF and UHF came in clear.
By the mid-1960′s it was obvious – there was something to cable-TV. Not many big cities had it. Microwave paths were enabling cable systems to carry “out-of-town” TV stations – and – you could charge a premium for such a service. By the end of the 1960′s – it was clear – you could offer premium (almost) first-run movies – and charge even more. Home Box Office saw this potential – and, using microwave transmission (and wide-band phone lines) – began offering their premium service to independent cable operators. The year was 1972 – and from there – cable-TV became a part of pop culture.
Here’s something interesting – as cable-TV finally came to New York City. It’s interesting to see – exactly – the give-and-take. Before the end of the decade, premium programming was being offered – but, isn’t it fascinating to see, at least in the beginning – it wasn’t allowed? In the beginning – the whole idea was to give better over-the-air reception to the concrete jungle of Manhattan, where “ghosting” was prevalent. Cable-TV in Manhattan would also usher in color-TV programming – as all three networks would offer (mostly) color beginning with the 1966 TV season. Color looks much worse with a bad, ghosting signal.
According to this, Cable TV in NYC began on April 1, 1966: