A cable television pioneer who was behind a number of the industry’s milestones — including the creation of the early Madison Square Garden Network, which became the USA Network — has died. Multichannel News reports that Robert Rosencrans, founder of UA-Columbia Cable, died this week in Greenwich, Conn. He was 89.
Rosencrans’ work in cable goes all the way back to 1953, when he produced and distributed live TV events for theaters and hotels, first through Box Office Television and later with TelePrompTer Corp., Multichannel reports, citing information from the Cable Center.
His efforts with UA-Columbia Cablevision would lead to the creation of one of the first cable networks, USA Network, which began as the Madison Square Garden Network — not to be confused with the later regional sports channel of the same name.
“Rosencrans formed Columbia Cable Systems in 1961, acquiring systems in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and California, eventually growing it to more than 250,000 customers,” the story reports. “Columbia Cable was the first operator to install a satellite Earth Station to receive the feed of the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight championship fight from Manila in 1975.”
Rosencrans was also behind the creation of C-SPAN in the late 1970s, cutting a check for $25,000 to help it get started and convincing other cable operators to also kick in.
In a statement, the National Cable Telecommunications Association said of Rosencrans: “Bob embodied the cable entrepreneur, investing time, money and sweat equity in the creation of products and services that have become vital to consumers.”
Here’s a featurette on Rosencrans posted by the Cable Center …