Modern Retro Wordpower: Cable Television

I know I always wear an evening gown when I'm watching TV, don't you?

Cable Television

Noun (Merriam-Webster): a system of television reception in which signals from distant stations are picked up by a master antenna and sent by cable to the individual receivers of paying subscribers —called also cable TV

First Known Use: 1951;  Community Antenna Television (CATV) began in 1948 and was popular in regions where traditional transmission of television was inhibited by the terrain.  Essentially, a large “community” antenna was erected and the transmission was delivered to people’s homes via a coaxial cable.  Naturally, someone figured out that money could be made and subscription delivery began in 1949.  Home Box Office came into being in 1972 with the broadcasting of the Paul Newman-Henry Fonda movie, Sometimes a Great Notion.

Example: I don’t know if it is because I grew up in The Entertainment Capitol of the World  where we had great reception and lots of channels or what, but cable television didn’t cross my radar until I was in college and people were talking about watching movies on HBO.

Your turn: What is your memory of cable television?  Did you have it growing up?  Do you have it now or are you a dish user or, like me, have foregone television altogether?

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Dr. Julie-Ann

I'm Dr. Julie-Ann, living life in its Technicolor finest by channeling my Grandma, Donna Reed, and June Cleaver with a bit of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly glamour thrown in for good measure, too. I work outside of the home full-time as a university administrator but I nourish my soul and find my greatest happiness by trying to be the "perfect" 1950s homemaker.

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    Well, since my family did not have a television set until I was 15 years old and we always lived in rural areas I had no contact with cable television until long after I was an adult. I knew what is was, of course, just did not use it. ‘tP’ & I had the use of cable TV for a short time before we decided that TV just was not worth the time, energy or money – it’s mostly a great deal of “clap-trap”.
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    Anneliese says

    Growing up in a rural area, we didn’t have access to cable TV. It was “antenna TV” or nothing. It wasn’t until high school that my parents got a satellite dish – the 12 foot kind that took up half your yard. I always thought is was kind of neat watching the dish move everytime you wanted to watch a channel on another satellite. We have cable now, but we watch very little of what we actually receive. Usually I watch TCM or listen to the music channels, and my husband likes to watch sports. Most of the rest of what’s on isn’t worth the time.

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    Lisa says

    I remember when we got cable for the first time in our home. We had moved from the Cape (which didn’t have cable at that time) to Western Massachusetts. This was in 1980. My father decided to splurge and we got the full cable package (which included HBO). I think he paid $10.00 a month plus an extra $5 for the channel changer.

    Does anyone remember when televisions were advertised as having a “wireless remote”. Ever wonder why they called them wireless? Well the channel changer we had for the cable box, in 1980 was a box with numbers in the front and lever that you moved back and for to change the channel. And it was hooked up to the cable box with a long cord so you could sit on the couch, put the channel changer on the coffee table and not have to get up to change the channel.

    The first movie I ever watched on HBO was The Goodbye Girl. I remember being shocked, and a little facinated, by some of the profanity used in the movie (tame by today’s standards of course). I had never heard anyone swear on television! For a 14 year old it was shocking and exciting at the same time.

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    Cable made television possible in the little Idaho valley where I grew up. We had three channels out of Spokane and I swear we had more program choices than I see today with our Dish package. If it weren’t for sports programming, I don’t think we’d bother.

    But the actual phrase “cable television,” I don’t remember until the late ’70s. In fact, I remember the day a guy came to the door and tried to sell me a cable package. I was confused. Until then, cable meant the three channels from Spokane and one or two PBS channels.
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