For the last 20 years, scholarly and popular accounts of the development of cable television have recounted the story of John Walson, Sr., who claimed to have started the first CATV system in June of 1948 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania. When Walson died in March of 1993, newspapers around the country credited him with starting the nation's first cable system and even "founding" the industry. The claim, however, has always been clouded by questions and a lack of documentation. This paper reports the results of an investigation of the Walson story. It concludes that, as bright and promising as the Walson tale may be, it probably is not true. At the very least, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Walson got his start in the community antenna television business in late 1950, about the same time as many others around the country and, importantly, probably after another group of businessmen already had begun a system in Mahanoy City itself.
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