John Rigas

Sep 15, 2003  •  Post A Comment

John Rigas and his family have brought fame, fortune and a certain notoriety to the little town of Coudersport, Pa. Mr. Rigas plopped down a hefty $300 for the town’s cable franchise in 1952, then nurtured the company into one of the largest multiple system operators in the country, Adelphia Communications, serving 5 million customers.
Mr. Rigas was born in tiny Wellsville, N.Y. The son of Greek immigrants, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, earning a degree in engineering.
Before entering the cable business-almost reluctantly-Mr. Rigas operated a movie theater in Coudersport. He ventured into cable only after a film distributor mentioned seeing “television delivered by wire” in a few small Pennsylvania towns he passed through, and urged Mr. Rigas to check it out.
Mr. Rigas has received many honors and awards for his contributions to the industry, but in recent years controversy has surrounded the Rigas clan. Mr. Rigas and two of his sons stand accused of looting corporate accounts and hiding more than $2 billion in liabilities from investors. They are scheduled to go to trial early next year.