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Who was General Instrument (GI)?

GI was a Fortune 500 company and the leader in broadband communications equipment in the 1980s and 1990s. GI’s San Diego division launched the digital television revolution by developing the world’s first digital TV system in the early 1990s. In 2000, the company was acquired by Motorola. In 2012, Google purchased the (former) GI business units as part of Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Google then sold Motorola Home (GI) to Arris in 2013.

A brilliant group of engineers developed GI’s core technologies and integrated them into the first complete digital television communications system. In addition, a revolving door of star CEOs stood at the helm of the company through the 1990s:

  • Donald Rumsfeld, former and future Secretary of Defense
  • Dan Akerson, former president of MCI and future CEO of General Motors
  • Rick Friedland, financial operations whiz and consummate company man, and
  • Ed Breen, the charismatic salesman who sold the company to Motorola for $17 billion.

Read Televisionaries to learn the compelling story of the engineers and entrepreneurs who triggered the digital TV revolution, and get a firsthand look at the roller-coaster life inside the technology company with a pivotal role in the twin revolutions of digital TV and the broadband Internet.

What is digital television?

Digital television is the transformation of the video content delivery business from analog waves to the digital bits (zeros and ones) of the computer world. Digital TV technology dramatically changed the media business—it opened up the cable TV stranglehold to competitors (e.g., DirecTV, DISH, Verizon, AT&T); allowed content to blossom with new genres and hundreds of channels; enabled HDTV, DVRs, and VOD; and laid the platform for Internet TV and multi-screen video.

Read Televisionaries to learn about the twenty-five-year trajectory of digital TV, and where it’s headed next.

Who are the media titans of Televisionaries?

Televisionaries features a colorful cast of characters who were pioneers in the subscription TV business. John Malone, Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone, Chuck Dolan, Brian Roberts, and Charlie Ergen brilliantly harnessed the power of digital TV technology to propel their media empires into the modern age.

Read Televisionaries to learn more about these industry leaders and the dynamic businesses they continue to build.

What is net neutrality?

The essence of net neutrality is an open Internet, where all traffic is treated equally. Just about everyone agrees with the general principles of net neutrality, but it has become a political hot button due to disparate interpretations of exactly what it is and what the rules should be. In a rare instance, it’s even an issue that President Obama and conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia apparently agree on (which doesn’t mean they are right). Read Televisionaries to learn more.

Will cord cutting and a la carte content really happen in a significant way?

There are already several million cord cutters, and major content providers such as CBS, HBO, and Showtime have launched or announced a la carte services, not requiring a separate multi-channel subscription. Is this really what consumers want? Read Televisionaries to learn more.

What is Ultra HD?


The vast majority of US households now have at least one HDTV set, and video service providers typically offer more than 100 HD channels. Do consumers really need a new generation of HDTV technology? When will it happen? Read Televisionaries to learn more.