History of CATV by CHIPS Technology

The history of cable television in the United States is an interesting story. Cable television is now a common form of television delivery, generally by subscription. Cable television first became available in the United States in 1948, with subscription services in 1949. Data by SNL Kagan shows that as of 2006 about 58.4% of all American homes subscribe to basic cable television services, although most cable viewers in the US are in the suburbs and tend to be more middle class. Cable television is less common in low income, inner-city, and rural areas.

Cable television in the United States in its first twenty-four years was used almost exclusively to relay over-the-air broadcast channels to remote and inaccessible areas. It also became popular in other areas which were not remote, but whose mountainous terrain caused poor reception over the air. Original programming came in 1972 with government deregulation of the broadband industry.


During the television licensing freeze of 1948–1952, the demand for television increased. Since new television licenses were not being issued, the only way the demand was met was by Community Antenna Television (CATV), as early cable was known (so named because of the literal sharing of a very large receiving antenna by an entire community).