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Unlike the history of television itself, cable television can claim a single inventor, John Walson of Pennsylvania. In the late 1940s, he sold and repaired TV sets in mountainous Mahanoy City. When his customers reported they had trouble receiving Philadelphia stations, he set up a "community antenna" on a mountaintop and connected his customers' TVs to it via cables.
A few years later, Milton Shapp, who became governor of Pennsylvania later on, used a similar antenna-and-cables system to wire an entire apartment building to receive TV signals, replacing the forest of antennas feeding each individual set.
By 1962, there were about 800 cable networks in the United States, mostly receiving network broadcasts from major cities and sending them to rural areas and places with poor reception.
In the 1970s came pay television, starting with Home Box Office (HBO) and satellite television, which allowed a single signal to be received all over North America. Thus began the history of cable television as we know it today. By 2005, nearly 85 percent of television households subscribed to cable.