«HISTORY BETWEEN THEIR EARS THE RICHARD SCHNEIDER MEMORIAL PROJECT TO THE MEMORY OF RICHARD C. SCHNEIDER 1925-1991 Courtesy National Cable Television ...»
THE RICHARD SCHNEIDER MEMORIAL PROJECT
TO THE MEMORY OF RICHARD C. SCHNEIDER
Courtesy National Cable Television Center and
Richard Schneider was born in Garber, Oklahoma, on
March 25, 1925. He received a bachelor of science degree
in aeronautical engineering from the University of Texas
in 1948. Richard and his younger brother Gene were Bill Daniels’ original partners in the company that built the first cable television system in Casper, Wyoming, in 1953.
About 1951, Richard and Gene Schneider were invited by Bill Daniels and a group of local oil men to come up from Texas to participate in the community television antenna venture in Casper, Wyoming, as Chief Engineer and Operations Manager, respectively. Both were graduate engineers with extensive electronic training in the U.S. Navy Radar Program during World War II, and were indispensable to the development of the television distribution network in Casper.
At that time, no television reception existed anywhere in Wyoming. The nearest TV station was in Denver, nearly 100 miles from the Wyoming border and 225 miles from Casper. Richard and his brother probed exhaustingly for Denver TV signals until, finally, they found a suitable receiving site on the 12,000-foot mountain called The Summit, between Cheyenne and Laramie, just north of the Wyoming border. Casper was the first cable system in the country to use microwave to import distant signals, provided by AT&T for $7,800 a month. The oil men secured the prerequisite $125,000 bond and put up the bulk of the money to build the distribution system. So, late in 1953, Community Television Systems of Wyoming began operation by delivering a single channel of television from a Denver TV station operating no more than eight hours a day.
After buying Bill Daniels out of the Casper system, Gene and Richard joined with Ben Conroy, Jack Crosby, Glenn Flinn and others in 1966 to form the GenCoE multiple system organization (MSO), which was soon merged with Livingston Oil Company (LVO) to form LVO Cable. In 1974, the Schneiders formed a group of investors who became the principal owners and directors of the United Cable Television Corporation (UCTC), comprising LVO Cable systems and franchises spun off by LVO as a dividend to shareholders. Richard Schneider held the position of Chief Engineer and Director of UCTC for fifteen years, until 1989 when it was merged into United Artists Entertainment, Inc. (UAE).
As part of that merger, several former UCTC executives and Board members formed United International Holdings, Inc. (UIH), for the purpose of acquiring many of UCTC’s overseas holdings. Richard Schneider was a founding investor and member of the Board of Directors of UIH until his death on March 29, 1991.
Richard Schneider was one of the early inductees into the Cable Television Pioneers. He was a member of the NCTA Standards and Engineering Committee and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE).
Besides the use of microwave for CATV Richard served, as an adviser to Jerrold, and others, with guidance and assistance at the cutting edge in the development and utilization of new technology for cable television.
Richard and his wife Janet maintained their home in Casper, with their three children, now grown and with families of their own. He was an active participant in community services in Casper.
HISTORY BETWEENTHEIR EARS Recollections of Pioneer CATV Engineers The Richard Schneider Memorial Project Archer S. Taylor Copyright © 2000 The Cable Center All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
ISBN 1-89182-101-6 (print) Contents Illustrations Foreword About the Author Prologue Acknowledgments
1. Historical Roots
2. Wired Television
3. The Technological Challenge
4. Jerrold Electronics Corporation: The Engineers
5. Jerrold Electronics Corporation: Engineering
6. Entron, Inc
7. Ameco, Inc
8. Spencer Kennedy Laboratories
9. Scientific Atlanta, Inc
10. C-COR Electronics, Inc
11. Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, Inc
12. Philips Broadband Networks, Ltd
13. Other Cable TV Equipment Suppliers Epilogue: For Better or for Worse Appendix A: Oral History Interviews Appendix B: Historic Firsts Appendix C: Triple Beat Glossary Notes Index Illustrations Richard C. Schneider (1925-1991) Fig. 1.1 The Nipkow disc mechanical scanning arrangement (1884) Fig. 1.2 Philo T. Farnsworth (1906-1971) Fig. 1.3 David Sarnoff (1891-1971) Fig. 1.4 Vladimir Zworykin (1889-1986) Fig. 2.1 The Crook patent drawing (1940) Fig. 2.2 Ed Parsons (1906-1989) at his workbench Fig. 2.3 Jim Y. Davidson Fig. 2.4 A rhombic antenna Fig. 2.5 Robert J. Tarlton Fig. 2.6 Martin F. Malarkey, Jr. (1918-1997) Fig. 2.7 John Walson (1915-1993) Fig. 3.1 Response curves showing bandwidth shrinkage and loss of sound in amplifier cascades Fig. 3.2 Broadband techniques Fig. 4.1 Milton J. Shapp (1912-1994) Fig. 4.2 Keneth A. Simons (seated) and Henry J. Arbeiter (1921-1986) Fig. 4.3 Mike Jeffers Fig. 4.4 Frank Ragone Fig. 4.5 Leonard Ecker Fig. 5.1 Jerrold prototype TV-FM booster (1948) Fig. 5.2 Eric Winston Fig. 5.3 The J-Jacks system Fig. 5.4 Jerrold’s first transistorized amplifier—Model TML Fig. 5.5 Jerrold’s Starline One transistorized amplifier Fig. 5.6 Jerrold’s Model 704-B signal level meter Fig. 6.1 Henry M. Diambra Fig. 6.2 George G. Edlen (deceased) Fig. 6.3 Entron’s FasTee patent drawing Fig. 6.4 Entron’s EquaTrol patent drawing, as used in Cumberland, Maryland Fig. 6.5 Entron’s AccuraSplit, similar to SKL’s Model 427 Fig. 7.1 J. Earl Hickman Fig. 7.2 Milford Richey Fig. 7.3 Ameco’s “NO STEP” Model ATM-20 line extender amplifier Fig. 7.4 Ameco’s hermetically sealed cylindrical amplifier Fig. 7.5 The G-Line, surface wave transmission line Fig. 8.1 Argyle W. “Socks” Bridgett Fig. 8.2 SKL Model 212 chain amplifier, with cover removed to show delay line coils Fig. 8.3 The SKL Chromatap Fig. 8.4 Jakob Shekel, Ph.D Fig. 8.5 The SKL two-way amplifier (TWA) configuration Fig. 8.6 Robert A. Brooks Fig. 9.1 Tom D. Smith Fig. 9.2 Scientific Atlanta’s huge, tower-mounted, channel 3 log-periodic antenna Fig. 9.3 Alex Best Fig. 10.1 James R. Palmer Fig. 10.2 Robert E. Tudek (left) and Everett I. Mundy… Fig. 11.1 Isaac “Ike” S. Blonder (left) and Benjamin H.
Tongue Fig. 11.2 Blonder-Tongue CA-1 Antensifier (commercial version of HA-1) Fig. 11.3 Blonder-Tongue Model MLA main line amplifier Fig. 12.1 Daniel N. Mezzalingua Fig. 12.2 John Mezzalingua Foreword
THIS VOLUME IS PUBLISHED UNDER THE AUSPICES
OF THE NATIONAL CABLE TELEVISION CENTERAND MUSEUM. One of the principal objectives of the establishment of the Center and Museum was, and is, to develop a continuing historical record of the birth and evolution of the cable television industry by means, among others, of a comprehensive Oral Histories Program.
Such a program was designed initially to focus on the founding pioneers followed by others who entered the industry during the period of its early growth. It was also planned that the program would move ahead to encompass current leaders in the rapidly evolving industry. In large part, these goals are being achieved.
After the program had been under way for several years, it became apparent that it was failing to record a critically important aspect of the industry’s history— namely, the inventive contributions of the engineers, technicians and other contributors to the development of industry technology. In an industry that for all practical purposes developed its technology, manufacturing and supply arms almost from scratch, this was not acceptable.
The program initially focused on management, which had to deal with the legal and management problems of establishing an entirely new industry fraught with controversy and opposition from the broadcasting and telephone industries, programmers claiming infringement of enforceable rights in the televised programs, and an ambivalent government. These problems were integral and vital to the existence of the industry and had to be dealt with immediately and continuously. On the other hand, the industry would have perished if its technology could not meet the insatiable demand of the public nationwide for more channels and superior pictures.
To address this problem a separate program of Oral Histories of those engineers and technicians was established and has been completed. It being recognized that many persons who might otherwise be interested in reading about this segment of the evolution of cable television would be unable conveniently to avail themselves of, or devote the necessary time to read, the actual interview transcripts, the program also called for the preparation of this volume to provide a single, cohesive narrative account based on the content of the interviews together with the observations of the interviewers and the author.
The generous financial support of the family of the late Richard Schneider, one of those pioneer technical geniuses in whose name this program has been conducted and is dedicated, is gratefully acknowledged.
That support, together with generous contributions from others who wished to see the technological heritage of the industry preserved, made this program and book possible. Thanks to all.
The status of the industry today as a major player in the development of the telecommunications infrastructure of the information age is testimony to the technological genius of the pioneers as well as those whose task today is to keep the industry in the forefront of broadband telecommunications technologies.
And now to those technological pioneers listed in Appendix A, who so graciously and enthusiastically gave of their time and energies for the Oral History interviews, as Bob Hope would put it: THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES.
E. Stratford Smith, Esq.
Director, Oral Histories Project National Cable Television Center and Museum About the Author IN 1953, ARCHER TAYLOR and three colleagues, all engineers by training, organized, built, and operated until 1968 the first community antenna television (CATV) system in Montana, at Kalispell. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in physics in 1938 from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, he joined the radio section of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), where he was one of two bureau scientists participating in the NBS-Louise A. Boyd Arctic Expedition. For five months in 1941, he operated automated ionospheric sounding equipment on board the schooner Effie M.
Morrissey, west of Greenland at latitudes up to 78°N. His career as a consulting engineer in radio and television broadcasting extended from 1944 until semiretirement about 50 years later. In 1948, he opened his own one-man consulting office in Missoula, Montana, where his clients increasingly were seeking assistance with CATV-related problems. In 1965, he joined cable pioneer Martin Malarkey as cofounder of the widely recognized, multidisciplinary cable TV consulting firm MalarkeyTaylor Associates (MTA). The firm was sold to senior associates in 1992. After Malarkey’s death in 1997, the firm expanded and broadened its scope under a new name, The Strategis Group.
Taylor has been honored as Lifetime Fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), as Fellow in the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) in the United States, as well as Fellow in the separate organization of the same name in the United Kingdom. He has published widely in professional journals and the cable TV trade press, including a decade of monthly columns in CED as well as a few in Communications Technology. He is a registered professional engineer (retired) in Montana, the District of Columbia, and Colorado.
FEW CABLE TV ENGINEERS AND TECHNICIANS
LIVE IN THE RAREFIED ATMOSPHERE OF A BELL
TELEPHONE LABORATORY OR A UNIVERSITYCAMPUS. Almost without exception, they are in constant touch with the harsh discipline of the bottom line. This book tells the story of how these imaginative and creative engineers, with credentials ranging from amateur radio and military electronics to prestigious doctorate degrees, set in motion the sophisticated technology by which more than 60 million households receive modern television.
While some of their history is documented, much of it resides “between the ears” of the pioneers who created it.
This volume is based primarily on the Technological Oral Histories of many individuals who played key roles in the history of cable TV recorded and transcribed with the, support and encouragement of the Richard Schneider Memorial project of the National Cable Television Center and Museum. Informal telephone interviews and the author’s own experience helped to fill in the gaps. Many documents collected with the interviews and all of the transcripts are retained by the Cable Center for scholarly research or just plain fun. Oral history transcripts are also accessible on the Internet at www.cablecenter.org.
Pioneering technicians and engineers probed the mountains and hilltops, on foot or horseback, in Jeeps and airplanes and helicopters, for suitable receiving sites, adapting every conceivable type of antenna array in the endless search for high signal gain and directivity. During the 1950s and 1960s, research and development for CATV was provided primarily, although not quite exclusively, by the manufacturers. Equipment suppliers necessarily looked to operators for guidance regarding their problems and needs, as well as for important feedback on operations under actual field conditions. For practical reasons, the present volume relies primarily on interviews with the manufacturer’s technical personnel. It is left to another volume to recount the indispensable contributions of the technicians and engineers who spearheaded the building and successful operation of cable television facilities in their own and nearby communities.