Ralph J. Roberts

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For the American geologist, see Ralph J. Roberts (geologist).
Ralph J. Roberts
Born (1920-03-13) March 13, 1920 (age 95)
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Occupation Businessman
Known for Founder of Comcast Corporation
Spouse(s) Suzanne Fleisher
Children five
--Catherine Roberts
--Lisa Roberts
--Ralph Roberts, Jr.
--Brian L. Roberts
--Douglas Roberts (deceased)

Ralph Joel Roberts (born March 13, 1920) is a American businessman and is the co-founder of Comcast Corporation and was its chief executive officer for 46 years. As of 2011 he serves as founder and chairman emeritus of Comcast's board of directors.

Early life and education[edit]

Roberts grew up in a Jewish family in New Rochelle, New York and moved to Germantown, Philadelphia when he was seventeen.[1][2] Roberts graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and served a four-year tour of duty in the United States Navy.[3]


After leaving the Navy, he held various jobs, first selling golf clubs, then working for the Muzak Company, and later the Pioneer Suspender Company which he eventually owned. Using the proceeds from Pioneer, he started purchasing local community antenna television systems which brought TV to people in rural areas,[1] a population then underserved by the big broadcasters. In 1963, he and his partners, Daniel Aaron and Julian A. Brodsky, purchased for $500,000, a 1,200-subscriber cable TV operator in Tupelo, Mississippi called American Cable Systems.[4] They incorporated in 1969 as Comcast Corporation, a name Ralph invented by combining the words communications and broadcasting.[1]

Philanthropy and accolades[edit]

Roberts has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Brandywine River Museum, the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, and the PENN Medicine Board of Trustees.[3] Roberts has received awards from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the Walter Kaitz Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, The National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Urban League of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.[3] He has been awarded honorary degrees from both Holy Family College and the University of Pennsylvania where he received their Joseph P. Wharton Award.[3] In 1998, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted Roberts into their Hall of Fame.[5] The Suzanne F. and Ralph J. Roberts Foundation was one of the largest contributors to the restoration of the Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia named in the honor of his father-in-law.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1942, Roberts married Suzanne Fleisher,[7] who was also Jewish,[1] an actress and playwright, and daughter of philanthropist Alfred W. Fleisher.[8] Her name appears on the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia and she hosts a TV program aimed at seniors called "Seeking Solutions with Suzanne" on Comcast's CN8 network.[9] They have five children: Catherine, Lisa, Ralph Jr. (Rob), Brian, and Douglas (who died in 2011);[1] and eight grandchildren. Their son, Brian L. Roberts, is the current CEO of Comcast Corporation.[10][11]

Roberts made an appearance on TLC's reality series Cake Boss, receiving a cake for his 90th birthday.


External links[edit]