SCTE·ISBE is hosting its annual Cable-Tec Expo at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans September 30th to October 3rd. In honor of the Society’s 50th anniversary, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the organization’s achievements and share a little trivia.
Trivia #1: Do you know the original name of SCTE?
Originally called the Society of Cable Television Engineers – the name was changed to the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers in 1995 – the group’s first general meeting took place June 22, 1969, during the then National Cable Television Association’s annual convention in San Francisco. 79 individuals – now recognized as Charter Members – attended that first meeting. The inspiration for what became SCTE started with an editorial that appeared in the November 1968 issue of Cablecasting magazine. Publisher Charles Tepfer wrote about the need to recognize the industry’s engineers. William Karnes responded in a letter to the editor, agreeing with Tepfer. During the Society’s first meeting a few months later, Karnes was elected Vice President and Tepfer Secretary/Treasurer (Ron Cotten was elected President). And the rest, as they say, is history. I doubt that the organization’s founding members had any idea of the future technologies, like satellites, fiber optics, high-speed data, DAA and 10G, and so much more, that the new Society and industry would experience over the next half century.
Trivia #2: How did the annual Cable-Tec Expo start?
One of the Society’s goals was to provide essential knowledge for cable professionals. Over the next dozen or so years after its founding, SCTE conducted top-notch technical training in local chapter meetings, its Annual Conference on CATV Reliability, various regional seminars, and other events. It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that the industry saw the introduction of what became the long-running annual Cable-Tec Expo. You can see an overview of some of the highlights of the organization’s first 50 years here.
Trivia #3: Do you know where and when SCTE’s first Cable-Tec Expo occurred?
Many with whom I’ve spoken over the years say Nashville in 1984, but that was actually the second. The first Expo was in Dallas in May of ’83. That inaugural event had about 700 attendees and 118 exhibitors. Bonus trivia question: How much did it cost for attendees to get in the door at the first Expo? You’ll find the answer at the end of this blog. These days Cable-Tec Expo has upwards of 12 to 15 times the original event’s attendance (representing something like 60 countries!) and 400+ exhibitors.
Trivia #4: How has Cable-Tec Expo changed over the years?
I’ve been fortunate to have attended every Expo (I joined the Society in 1979). Looking back, a lot has changed since the early days of Cable-Tec Expo. For instance, I remember when there were no more than 10 technical workshops, repeated such that one could sit in on up to six over the course of two or three days. This year’s Fall Technical Forum workshops feature an astounding 115 papers in 11 technical tracks, plus a jam-packed set of panel discussions on the Innovation Stage. Cisco experts will be speaking on a number of topics during the 2019 conference. The full schedule is here.
Cable-Tec Expo is much more than technical papers. The exhibit hall allows attendees to get up close and personal with some of the latest technology. You’ll have a chance to listen to the industry’s thought leaders in the pre-conference session, special breakfast meetings, opening general session, and post-conference sessions. I find Expo a great venue to network with industry colleagues and catch up with long-time friends.
Trivia #5: Why does Ron have so many ribbons?
Now, about the ribbons. Those of you who know me also likely know that my Expo badge is adorned with ribbons hanging nearly to my knees. You might be wondering why. It’s not unusual for some attendees at trade shows to get a ribbon on their badge for things like speaker, board member, that sort of thing. My annual ribbon display started as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek informal competition among a handful of long-time industry friends and colleagues, all of whom were very active in SCTE. That meant more ribbons on our badges than what might be considered normal, so we started to see who could claim bragging rights for the most ribbons (all legitimate) each year. As others in our group gave up, left the industry, retired, or went to that great headend in the sky, I maintained the tradition we started years ago. Indeed, if I didn’t keep doing that, Expo attendees likely would ask, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Ron Hranac?”
Bonus Trivia Question: How much did it cost to attend Cable-Tec Expo in 1983?
$50 per person.
Well, that’s it for the trivia, but I have a tip. To help manage your Expo experience, SCTE offers a handy app for your mobile device. More information and links to download the app can be found here. I’ve used the iOS version on my iPhone the past few years and have found it to be quite useful and very convenient.
As for me, it’s going to be a busy week. On Monday September 30th at 5:30 p.m., I’ll be speaking on the panel Getting the most out of DOCSIS 3.1 and participating in various SCTE events and awards celebrations. I’ll also be emceeing the annual ham radio operators’ reception again this year, something I’ve been doing since the late 1980s.
Stop by Cisco’s booth and say hello (Booth 1301); I’ll be happy to give you a tour and let you take a picture of that ribbon collection. See you in New Orleans.