Sony Corp. invented the Walkman because the company’s Chairman wanted to listen to music during overseas flights to the U.S. An obscure entrepreneur came up with an unlikely idea for “wired radio” that would end up reframing the entire U.S. television system. Microsoft’s hugely popular Xbox gaming platform took its inspiration from the H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” radio series. And more. Over seven years, I wrote more than 50 essays about moments of impact in the modern media and telecommunications ecosystems. From Sony’s iconic portable stereo to an FCC rule that laid the groundwork for the era of the mega-media corporation, these reflections illuminate how we got to where we are. Enjoy the stroll.
LESSON FROM THE MASTER: EMBRACE YOUR INNER DVR
“He bumped the turntable, the stylus skittered across the vinyl, and somewhere within the abrasive sound of the needle’s scrape young Theodore detected the makings of a revolution.”
FOR TELEPHONE COMPANIES, HAPPY DAYS AREN’T HERE AGAIN
“You could hardly blame telephone industry veterans for waxing nostalgic about earlier, better, simpler times.”
METER ME, BABY
In the new world of high-speed Internet, you get what you pay for. And sometimes much more.
VCR TO THE MAX
To TV people, it’s simply “The Betamax decision.” Here’s why a U.S. Supreme Court ruling turned the media world upside-down.
WALLOWING IN GUI
A staple of the modern video experience is the on-screen menu, a window to vast reservoirs of titles. It wasn’t always that way.
In the quest to deliver movies to the home, cable has never been alone. Or even first.
DISHING IT UP
1994 was the year everything changed for an industry that had gotten used to owning it all.
LOOK MA, NO WIRES
Riding over invisible radio waves, an emerging medium had its sights set on more than just phone calls.
WHATCHA LOOKING FOR?
What early-era Google taught the cable industry, and the world, about listening to the user base.
What the Pony Express taught data engineers about getting from point A to point B. Fast.
Once it played to the entire family. Now, television has gotten personal. And that’s no accident.
ALIENS ON LINE 1
Way before Stadia, XBox Live and other streaming video game platforms hit the scene, there was PlayCable.
In Los Angeles, pay television once flew through the skies.
Why an FCC ruling designed to mediate two television delivery technologies turned everything upside down.