Then cable came into being. Cable companies purchased large parabolic antennas so they could offer channels from all over the nation as well as some world wide access. This opened a whole new area of viewing as well as opened opportunities for broadcasters to start new channels, like music channels, more information channels like Discovery and History. It also increased advertising and boosted the economy allowing for shopping channels and longer commercial spots for selling products.
Finally smaller parabolic antennas went into production for private use. These were still fairly large, between six and eight feet in diameter. People who could afford it bought them, because now they could get hundreds of channels for free. The dish usually paid for itself between three and ten years depending upon how much people were paying for cable.
Some of the other advantages were that now people in America could see how people in Saudi Arabia lived. There was the NASA channel, and Canadian channels and Japanese channels and many more that allowed people to learn about their world. Another advantage was that people could buy extra programming from month to month and order just one channel if they wished, for a lot less than cable. If they purchased one movie channel, they received seven for the same price.
There was one problem. All these analog, meaning non-digital radio signals were through the air. Tall buildings or large trees could block reception whether the signals were coming from orbit or a tower. There had to be sufficient line of sight. Bad weather like rainstorms, wind or snow also effected the picture.
Then came digital signals. Small antennas of this type were made available. These signals worked much better. The picture was clearer and there were less interruptions. Analog signals were still being broadcast so the eight foot dishes still worked, but when the signals went all digital and HD they basically went the way of the dinosaurs.
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