Ralph Roberts, founder and chairman of Comcast Cable passed away last week at the age of 95. He transformed Comcast from a small cable TV system in Mississippi into a communications giant. It was reported that he passed away from natural causes in Philadelphia last Thursday.
Roberts started his career after he left the Navy and joined the Pioneer Suspender Company which he eventually owned. Using the money from Pioneer, he started purchasing local community antenna television systems which brought TV to those in rural areas. He was also able to serve those who were under-served by big broadcasters.
The Journey Began
He and his partners in 1963 purchased for $500,000, a 1,200-subscriber cable TV operator in Mississippi, called American Cable Systems; they then incorporated in 1969 as Comcast Corporation, a name Ralph invented by combining the words communications and broadcasting. Roberts ran the company until he was in his 80’s.
Robert’s son, Brian took over the company as chairman and CEO, but Ralph Roberts still kept the title chairman emeritus. Roberts had been recognized by colleague Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, as being an ambitious person who always thought about the development of the company and the way things needed to be done in the future. He was a forward thinker realizing that people’s needs would not stay the same 20 years from now.
Currently, Comcast is the nation’s largest provider of cable TV and home internet service. Another former colleague of Roberts, Terry Bienstock, mentioned that Ralph Roberts remade the cable industry; it was just a bunch of mom and pop businesses, and he took an idea and transitioned it into a worldwide media business. He was known to many as a legacy within the Comcast family.
I have mentioned many times how the usage of internet is changing, and Roberts had mentioned how he knew the future would not look the same in the future; the way the internet is changing and people are evolving the internet won’t look the same in one year or five years, but the moral of the story is he built a legacy on the needs of people.
Competition may rise and change, prices may change, but the needs of the consumer need to stay the same in order to bring wealth, in many ways, for both parties.