The cable industry’s multiple awards can get a bit confusing. There are Vanguards and Pioneers and Circle of Eagles and various Hall of Famers and so on. The Hall of Famers who will be honored tomorrow night at The Cable Center, of course, need to be distinguished from the SCTE Hall of Famers recognized each year at Cable-Tec Expo. This year, that latter group included two tech giants whom we profiled in this forum: Neil Philips and Tom Jokerst. Given our technology mandate, the SCTE Hall is really more up our alley. But helping us to appreciate this week’s honorees, we have our colleagues at Cable World, who conducted interviews with the magnificent seven that already have been posted here on the Cable360.net Web site. In truth, technology is not front and center in this other Hall. As per Paul Maxwell’s interview of HBO’s EVP Technical Ops and CTO Robert Zitter in the Cable World article, not only is Zitter the only technologist in this year’s Cable Center class, but also he’s one of only four bona fide technologists ever to get into this Hall. Moreover, Maxwell calls one of those four, Frank Drendel, “really more of a finance genius running a tech company” (namely Commscope). That Zitter is on the programming side of the business puts him somewhat outside our box, but that doesn’t mean any less technical. HBO led the digital video charge back in the early 1990s. And now, as television shifts inexorably toward the on-demand model (with HBO again at the forefront) the technological dividing line between the content and network providers will continue to blur. Cable Center Many of our readers have strong affiliations with the Cable Center. See Rex Porter’s accompanying interview for a reminder of who helped pay for the Center’s elevator shaft. (Why the shaft? If memory serves, the T-shirts read something like: “Because Engineers Always Get the Shaft!”) There’s also a significant collection of old cable equipment in the Center’s basement. This museum is not to be confused with “The Old CATV Equipment Museum” much discussed in the SCTE-List of late, although the famous “coffee can amplifiers” can be found in both places. For those of you curious about where the Cable Center is now headed, again turn to our Cable World colleagues, specifically, to Seth Arenstein’s interview with Center President/CEO Larry Satkowiak. Down the tubes? Among last year’s most memorable Hall of Famers was the posthumously inducted John Walson, of Service Electric, whose son and grandson were on hand to receive the award on his behalf. Whether Service Electric was the “first cable TV company in the nation” as proclaimed on its Web site is a question that can open up a rather lengthy debate among interested old-timers. In any case, with Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts entering the Hall this year, we have another reminder that past is prologue, that the current leaders stand on the shoulders of giants. Long before today’s billion-dollar sensation YouTube arrived on the scene, there were other kinds of tubes at large, the ones that Rex talks in today’s profile. The Cable Center seems like a good place to bridge the gap between the joy, sweat and tears of the old technology and the dazzling prospects and challenges of the new. – JonathanTombes

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