Happy 27th birthday to the cable modem

“Big Cable Company to Offer A High-Speed Internet Link” (New York Times, March 9, 1994):

Continental Cablevision Inc., the nation’s third-largest cable television company, said yesterday that it had begun offering a high-speed link to the Internet data network over the same coaxial cables that carry television channels into the home.

The Internet connection is initially available only to Continental customers in Cambridge, Mass., but company officials said it would eventually be offered to nearly three million customers nationwide. Continental, based in Boston, provides cable service to Westchester County, N.Y., and in California, Idaho and Michigan.

However, at a rate of $125 a month for residential customers, and higher for business customers, the service is unlikely to displace the MTV’s and the Home Box Offices at the top of a 500-channel hit parade, even in Cambridge, the sort of academic-technical redoubt where enthusiasts consider Internet access more important than the telephone.

At the same time, telephone and data-communications companies are constantly expanding the capacity of twisted-pair phone lines and speeding the installation of fiber optic lines, which also offer data-transfer speeds fast enough to handle video signals.

“Cable is a kludge,” remarked Mr. Harris of Jupiter Communications, using a computer term for an inelegant solution to a technical problem. “The market is aching to have everything in full motion, and cable is sort of a middle-of-the-road solution.”

Here we are, 27 years later, and Cambridge, thanks to the miracle of government regulation, still doesn’t have fiber to the home!

7 thoughts on “Happy 27th birthday to the cable modem

  1. $125 seems so cheap, by today’s standards. People drop $100 on starlink service like it’s going out of style. The most amusing thing from the article: “Cable customers barely want to pay $9.95 a month”

    Still remember paying $15 for cable TV, 20 years ago.

  2. Is the lesson: “Everything the New York Times reports on turns to garbage?” I’m beginning to think so, after all these years.

    • When I read that 1991 issue of Scientific American featuring Al Gore, I figured we’d all have fiber to the home by 2000. Actually I was talking about it with my amazed friends in high school back in the 1980s. Too bad nothing works. America doesn’t work any more. It hasn’t since the 1960s.

    • Alex, you are suffering from a nasty case of the blues.

      I am going through a period of irrational optimism recently. I credit the Lenten practice of giving up some bad habits and earthly pleasures for my good mood.

    • @Mememe:

      >Alex, you are suffering from a nasty case of the blues.

      You’re right. There’s a reason why beyond this story. I’m sorry for being such a Debbie Downer. There have been some things. Not nearly as many as I think we could accomplish, though. We’ve had really bad leadership for a lot of the past 40 years.

    • 40 years ago we were both younger, and that is why everything was better back then. But I was too stupid to know how good I had it by being young, and so I was a morose child.

      Finding satisfaction in things beyond our control, like the state of civilization, is a loser’s game, but it distracts us from our real intimate miseries, which is a blessing of sorts. Imagine how crappy you would feel if your life still sucked but the world had no troubles. Widespread cataclysm is the universe’s way of trying to commiserate with us on our personal tragedies.

      All of the above is likely horseshit, but that’s what comment sections are for — the illusion of solidarity in a lonely world.

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