Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television

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Temple University Press, Apr 5, 2008 - Business & Economics - 816 pages
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Cable television is arguably the dominant mass media technology in the U.S. today.  Blue Skies traces its history in detail, depicting the important events and people that shaped its development, from the precursors of cable TV in the 1920s and '30s to the first community antenna systems in the 1950s, and from the creation of the national satellite-distributed cable networks in the 1970s to the current incarnation of "info-structure" that dominates our lives.  Author Patrick Parsons also considers the ways that economics, public perception, public policy, entrepreneurial personalities, the social construction of the possibilities of cable, and simple chance all influenced the development of cable TV.

Since the 1960s, one of the pervasive visions of "cable" has been of a ubiquitous, flexible, interactive communications system capable of providing news, information, entertainment, diverse local programming, and even social services.  That set of utopian hopes became known as the "Blue Sky" vision of cable television, from which the book takes its title.

Thoroughly documented and carefully researched, yet lively, occasionally humorous, and consistently insightful, Blue Skies is the genealogy of our media society.

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1 The Evolution of a Revolution Origins1930s
2 Pioneering Efforts 1930s1952
3 Mom n Pop Business 19511958
4 Abel Cable Goes to Washington 19501960
5 Cables New Frontier 19601966
6 The Wired Nation 19661972
7 The Cable Fable 19721975
8 The Phoenix 19751980
10 The Cable Boom 19851992
11 The Cable Cosa Nostra 19861992
12 500 Channels 19921996
13 Whats Gonna Be Next? 19972005

9 Cablemania 19801984

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Page 15 - In a similar manner, it is conceivable that cables of telephone wires could be laid underground, or suspended overhead, communicating by branch wires with private dwellings, country houses, shops, manufactories, etc., etc., uniting them through the main cable with a central office where the wires could be connected as desired, establishing direct communication between any two places in the city.
Page 1 - It appears to me, Miss Leete," I said, "that if we could have devised an arrangement for providing everybody with music in their homes, perfect in quality, unlimited in quantity, suited to every mood and beginning and ceasing at will, we should have considered the limit of human felicity already attained, and ceased to strive for further improvements.
Page 16 - Wait a moment, please," said Edith. "I want to have you listen to this waltz before you ask any questions. I think it is perfectly charming." And as she spoke the sound of violins filled the room with the witchery of a summer night.

About the author (2008)

Patrick R. Parsons is Don Davis Professor of Ethics, College of Communications, Penn State University. He is the co-author (with Robert Frieden) of The Cable and Satellite Television Industry. He is also the author of Cable Television and the First Amendment and co-editor (with  Steve Knowlton) of The Journalist's Moral Compass.

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