a hundred million channels into
which they could funnel new and
undreamed-of varieties of trash.
Maybe we should stop right now!”
Nobody stopped, of course, but
people did look for alternatives.
Television in the early 1960s was
almost entirely a broadcast medium,
with only three or four channels in
most metropolitan areas. Only a few
areas had cable, and those were “community antenna television”
(CATV) systems, which used large antennas to pick up weak
broadcast signals and distribute them locally. Promoters claimed
CATV could offer more diverse programming, but skeptics
Dreams of wired cities
In the mid-1960s, a new vision for the future of telecommunications began emerging—the “wired city.” Looking back, the
concept was both bold and naive—linking homes, schools,
libraries, businesses and factories with advanced communications to create a futuristic technological utopia. The wired city
Two-way video n Hi-OVIS home system.
didn’t get off the ground in the
1970s. Today we have the Internet.
The wired city concept evolved
from Lyndon Johnson’s “Great
Society,” which sought to revitalize
troubled cities or build new ones.
It was more of a social experiment
than a technology demonstration.
Its major goal was interactiv-
ity—to build local communities,
The U.S. government gave wired cities a couple of early
boosts. In 1972, the FCC ruled that future large cable-TV
networks should be two-way. That is, they should be able
to transmit signals both to and from homes, although the
technology had yet to be demonstrated. In 1974, the National