Comcast founder, cable industry leader Ralph Roberts dies at 95

Fri Jun 19, 2015 3:54pm EDT
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By Malathi Nayak and Anya George Tharakan

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp founder and prominent cable industry executive Ralph Roberts died on Thursday at the age of 95, the company said.

Roberts, who set up Comcast after he bought a small cable television operator in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1963, died of natural causes in Philadelphia, Comcast said in a statement.

From selling ads to golf clubs and men's accessories in his early years, Roberts ambitiously ventured into America's fledgling cable industry. He led Comcast from its humble beginnings to a $150 billion media conglomerate.

Roberts, who was chairman emeritus of Comcast's board, had spent more than five decades at the company.

"Ralph was a born entrepreneur, a visionary businessman, a philanthropist and a wonderful human being," the company said in a statement.

After about a decade of building out cable networks and signing up subscribers, Comcast went public on the Nasdaq under Roberts' helm in 1972.

A sharply-dressed businessman, who often donned tailored suits and bow ties, Roberts was a dogged deal maker. In 1986, he led the acquisition of a 26 percent stake in Group W Cable expanding its customer base to more than a million.

The purchase of AT&T Broadband, the cable service of telephone giant AT&T Inc, for $30 billion in 2001, catapulted Comcast into the No. 1 U.S. cable TV operator with more than 21 million subscribers.   Continued...

Ralph Roberts (L)  at a press conference in New York, March 22, 1999. Reuters Photographer