TelePrompTer Corporation

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TelePrompTer Corporation was a media company that existed from approximately 1950 until 1981. The company was named after the teleprompter, a display device invented by Hubert Schlafly which scrolls text to on-camera talent instead of cue cards or scripts.

The company started around 1950 by businessman Irving B. Kahn; Fred Barton, Jr., a Broadway theatre actor; and Schlafly, an electrical engineer.[1]

During the course of the corporation, in the 1950s, Schlafly invented the teleprompter, in order to help a soap opera actor who could not remember his lines. Schlafly unveiled the teleprompter on the set of the CBS soap opera, The First Hundred Years, in 1950.[2] PR men handled the teleprompters. Schlafly invented the idea of actors in soap operas reading their lines by prompters, not scripts as they had been.

TelePrompTer itself sold its eponymous business in the 1960s and invested in cable and satellite broadcast services.[3]

Schafly went on to cooperate with Hughes Aircraft Company to develop microwave video transmission services.

TelePrompTer's Kahn was convicted in 1971 and federally imprisoned for 20 months for trying to bribe members of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania city council to award his company a local cable franchise. He was also convicted of perjury.[4][5][6] Mr. Kahn had stepped down as chairman of TelePrompTer several months before his conviction. Kahn maintained, before and after his 20-month prison term, that the issue was extortion by the officials and not bribery by Teleprompter.[6]

In 1969, TelePrompTer would acquire the Filmation animation studio from its founders, Lou Scheimer, Hal Sutherland and Norm Prescott.[7]

Teleprompter merged with H & B American Corporation in 1970, creating the nation's largest cable company at the time.[6]

TelePrompTer grew to become the largest cable television provider in the United States by 1973. They later sold the company to Westinghouse, merging the cable operations into Westinghouse Broadcasting. After the merger, TelePrompTer's cable systems would be renamed Group W Cable, with the broadcasting division renamed "Westinghouse Broadcasting and Cable". The Filmation studios were also part of the deal.[2] Westinghouse would sell off its cable operations in 1986 to Houston Industries, becoming Paragon Cable; 25% was sold to Comcast. Filmation would be sold in 1989 to L'Oreal, which closed the studios.[8]

Bright House Networks (and, in some areas, Comcast and Time Warner Cable) owns and operates systems previously run by TelePrompTer.


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