COMCAST’S RALPH ROBERTS:GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN
- June 19, 2015
Ralph Roberts, the dynamic pioneer who built a tiny system in Tupelo, Mississippi into Comcast--cable’s largest company--passed away yesterday at age 95. His vision, and devotion to the cause of a new communications medium, can be expressed by a quotation from Thomas Edison: "A diamond is a piece of coal that stuck to the job." The company that Ralph founded--with his partners Julian Brodsky, Dan Aaron, and later, his son Brian, now the CEO--soared from a speck in the cable universe to a diversified, media giant. As noted in An Incredible Dream, William Novak’s bio of the company, “Ralph was in heaven” when, in the mid-1980s, in my Kagan cable newsletter, I called Comcast “a baby blue chip.” It wasn’t long before “baby” grew up to be cable’s leading multiple-system operator.
Today, we are in the midst of far greater change in the media. Comcast is now a movie-TV-cable enterprise that Ralph was able to see completed. But its arch-rival—AT&T—which sold its industry-leading cable subs to Comcast in 2001, is back via acquisition of DirecTV’s U.S. and foreign satellite footprint and expansion into Latin America TV.
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