By Brian Santo, Mon, 12/09/2013, CED
| Archer Taylor died on November 22. He was a member of the very | first handful of people to get involved in what would only | later become known as the CATV industry. | | His death was reported in The Washington Post yesterday, on | Dec. 8. | | In the early 1950s, Taylor and his associates had visited a | cable system in Bellingham, Wash. In '53, he helped build the | first cable receiver in Montana, housed in a tent, designed to | pull in a signal from KXLY in Spokane, according to an | interview with The Cable Center. | | He co-founded Northwest Video later that same year. Shortly | thereafter, the company decided to set up operations in | Kalispell (using amps from "another fly-by-night outfit by the | name of Blonder-Tongue"). | | He said that sometimes in the late 1950s, NBC actually came to | Northwest Video asking them to build a cable system to carry | NBC content, because Kalispell was too small for NBC to | justify building a broadcast station there.
The Washington Post article cited above is here:
I met Mr. Taylor only once during my years in the cable TV industry. The company I worked for had applied for a franchise in a nearby village. I had recently joined the cable TV industry, after working for several years in educational broadcasting.
The local phone company, a subsidiary of TDS, also applied for the franchise. TDS was the incumbent landline telephone company in the village. FCC cross-ownership rules at the time prohibited telcos from owning CATVs within their telephone service areas. TDS believed that it could get around this restriction.
Faced with two competing applications, the village board scheduled a public hearing. My boss asked me to attend in case any technical questions came up.
We arrived at the meeting and took our places on one side of the table facing the TDS crew. I didn't recognize any of them.
Then in walked Archer Taylor. I recognized him immediately although I had never met him. And I was well aware of his reputation. Here I was, my first job in cable TV, and I'm sitting across the table from one of the biggest names in the technical end of the cable TV industry. I wasn't at all sure that I'd be able to match him if some technical issue came up.
Well, as it turned out, the lawyers spent the whole meeting arguing about FCC technicalities. I never had to say anything, and neither did Taylor.
After the meeting broke up, I approached Taylor and introduced myself. We had a short pleasant conversation. I think he was as glad that he didn't have to say anything as I was.
Sometimes even lawyers can be helpful.
Postscript: the village board eventually awarded the franchise to TDS and our side immediately appealed to the FCC. The subsequent battle raged on for five years. Here is a link to an article I wrote about it in 2000 for the Madison SBE Chapter newsletter:
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