For Baby Boomers, QUBE Was a Godsend
People nowadays may be glad to cut the cord, but they could never be as elated as I was when we dumped the rabbit ears. Cable TV has taken a lot of justified criticism over the past decade, yet I still clearly remember how grateful we all should be for its birth.
That conception has been revisited this week, since the passing of Gustave M. Hauser at age 91. Already a well-known international lawyer, Hauser became chairman and chief executive of Warner Cable in 1977.
At the end of that same year, Hauser and his company introduced QUBE. Although it carried thirty channels, its main purpose was to provide local network stations to rural areas in central Ohio where reception through an antenna was nearly impossible.
Three years later Hauser had doubled the number of cahnnels on QUBE, and its subscriber list increased at an even much greater rate. Most of those channels, just like the concept of cable TV itself, have disappeared over the past forty years.
Some of the stations included in Hauser's 60 channel QUBE are still extant, albeit in an altered format. Here are eighteen of the most well-known networks featured on the 1980 version of QUBE, as well as the channel number which each represented.
1 Program Guide
Until the emergence of QUBE, most viewers had to rely on the TV Guide magazine in order to know what show was on which channel at a certain time.
Ted Turner established one of the first superstations, where baseball games aired daily and classic sitcoms started at five minutes past the hour.
25 Front Row
This channel was one of the first pay-per-view services ever offered, even though its tenure was short-lived.
27 The Movie Channel
Hollywood feared that this 24-hour film option would lead to the demise of theaters, yet the silver screen continued to thrive for decades after TMC's debut.
28 Music Television
No station was embraced into pop culture like MTV, which thrilled young adults by showing their idols non-stop 24 hours a day.
Home Box Office competed, and still does in fact, with The Movie Channel.
Madison Square Garden was one of the first networks to disappear from QUBE, adhering instead to its local subscribers in the Big Apple.
Black Entertainment Television is the non-film channels to stick with its basic format throughout the years, and it has amped up its home-made series as well.
Until the Fox News Channel appeared years later, Ted Turner's Cable News Network pioneered the way viewers received their headlines of the day.
Children were the main focus of this channel during the day, but it relied on old sitcoms in the evening segment called “Nick-At-Nite.”
For Wall Street fanatics, this station provided constant updates on the New York Stock Exchange.
40 QUBE Update
Not much was offered on this channel, although it sometimes served as a companion to the channel 1 program guide.
Community access would eventually replace this station, which allowed home town programming.
45 USA Network
Baseball, movies and sitcoms were all available on this national superstation, which is not even a silhouette of itself today.
As if the market were not crowded enough, SHO brought even more competition to HBO and TMC.
This New York superstation competed with TBS, in that it aired daily sports as well as old sitcoms.
Second only to MTV in worldwide influence, the Eastern Sports Network very soon grew into a media behemoth.
This government-based station is still going strong, or at least still going, with an expansion to three channels.