The man who built Comcast from a Mississippi-based cable TV startup into one of the largest entertainment companies in the world has died. The AP reports that Ralph Roberts died Thursday night in Philadelphia of natural causes.
“Roberts jumped into the fledgling cable TV industry in 1963 by spending $500,000 to buy American Cable Systems, a company in Tupelo, Miss.,” the AP reports. “He then acquired other cable systems, changed the name of the company to Comcast and ran the company until he was in his 80s.”
Roberts “handed control of the company to one of his sons, Brian, who is now Comcast’s chairman and CEO. The younger Roberts expanded beyond his father’s vision and led Comcast to own NBCUniversal,” the report notes.
Terry Bienstock, a former general counsel at Comcast who knew Ralph Roberts since the early 1980s, commented: “He remade the cable industry. When he started, it was a bunch of mom and pop businesses. He’s shown that you can take that idea and transition it to a worldwide media business. The NBC thing will be his legacy.”