Old school cable box from the 1980's

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by PaulKTF, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member Thread Starter

    Anyone remember these cable boxes from the 1980's? :)


    It didn't have a remote control so to change the channel you actually had to get up and go to your TV and slide the slider even if your TV set itself did have a remote control.
    agaraffa, hobbes4444, Dude111 and 8 others like this.
  2. Bad Samaritan

    Bad Samaritan Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    Could that be from the 70’s? I recall our early 80’s cable box looking much more advanced than that.
  3. ianuaditis

    ianuaditis Evil Twin

    Long River Place
    Yes, my great-grandmother on my dad's side and my grandparents on my mom's side had one with switches - I remember one for each channel, but it could have been like this one. Channel 37 was the highest channel, it was USA network.

    They each had them into the early 90s at least.

    dgstrat, Pines Brook, Dude111 and 8 others like this.
  4. Muzyck

    Muzyck Real inventor of the inverted firkin

    We had a similar box somewhere in the late 70s. It was an upgrade with the switch on the left side to select the row and a fine tuning knob on the right. There was also a separate "descrambler" box for HBO. My neighborhood had cable starting in 1973.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
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  5. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member Thread Starter

    Could be! All I know is that our cable system used the slider box that I posted still as late as 1985 or so.
    Dude111 likes this.
  6. AKA

    AKA Creator of "Heve Stoffman"

    My grandmother had one with a 36-channel knob on it (I’m having a hard time finding a picture of it). She kept it long after it was obsolete, until she bought a cable-ready TV around 1988.
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  7. longdist01

    longdist01 Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL USA
    I recall several of those "manual-style" subscription TV services and later the ON TV plain box with off/on dial
  8. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    "Cable TV Boxes: Proudly Staying 10 Years Behind Current Technology Since the 1970s"
  9. forthlin

    forthlin Forum Resident

    We never had anything like what Paul posted, our original boxes were black with 2 (I think ) dials to select the channels. There was a descrambler for HBO but those were located at the wall where the cable "outlet" came into the house. We now have Google Fiber--the box is approx the size of two bluray boxes stacked together.
  10. Bad Samaritan

    Bad Samaritan Forum Resident

    Phoenix, AZ
    This sounds like the box I remember having in the 80's. Seems like you had to use an extra button or selector to get the premium channels too.

    Yup. I traded in my cable box last year for a newer model. It's slightly smaller than the previous one I had for nearly 15 years but functionality is virtually the same and it's just as dated. I could have opted for the latest voice activated box, but the cable company told me I'd also have to pay a $75 service fee to upgrade my feed for voice to work. Nope. The only reason I was there in the first place was to cut my cable and they managed to talk me into staying with them with a bill reduction and a "new box".
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  11. vince

    vince Stan Ricker's son-in-law

    I, too, had an early 'box-for-cable', but this was back in the '70's;
    It just had a button for HBO, and a button for all your local channels...
  12. Benno123

    Benno123 Forum Resident

    Wow, I remember this growing up. I haven’t seen or thought about one of these for years.
    ianuaditis likes this.
  13. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member Thread Starter

    Ben at The Oddity Archive did a great video about ON TV and other pay television services that you might like to watch:

  14. tmtomh

    tmtomh Forum Resident

    Ugh, a drag - and an experience I'm guessing many of us are familiar with.

    Part of the issue is that the emergence of real competition - with FIOS and streaming finally cutting into the unconscionable municipal monopolies cable companies have been allowed to have - has changed cable companies from dictators more into stereotypical car salesmen, offering deals if you're willing to go through the hassle of bargaining.

    As for the boxes themselves, I get that they have to make strategic investments in millions of boxes and that this sort of forces them, sort of like the government, to pre-commit to technology that will be at least slightly outdated by the time they can roll out the new boxes to their customers.

    But still, I remember being shocked when my then-girlfriend (now my wife) went back to Comcast after leaving Verizon a few years ago, and was given Comcast's then-cutting-edge X1 cable box. It's certainly smaller than their old clunkers, but it's shocking how loud the thing is, even in off/standby mode, and how hot it runs. I feel like every respectable consumer-electronic company that has to sell equipment one by one to end consumers probably has equipment like that - in their box of immediately rejected, early-stage prototypes. The equipment is just appalling. It's like the Traubant of consumer electronics devices.
    Chris DeVoe likes this.
  15. MJConroy

    MJConroy Forum Resident

    East Coast
  16. Spitfire

    Spitfire Senior Member

    Pacific Northwest
    That's the one we had. My dad figured out a way to get premium channels by keeping certain buttons half pushed in and putting toothpicks to hold them in position. I have no idea where he got it from. We got free HBO and Showtime for a couple of years.
  17. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member Thread Starter

  18. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient

    Austin, TX, USA
    Hated those things.

    We had Preview right around 1980 or 1981 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I believe we got cable in 1982 because I very distinctly remember watching MTV right around their first anniversary.
  19. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    Whoa! Blast from the past! We had one very similar to this when I was a kid in the late-70s early-80s. In El Paso we got to see all the indie Los Angeles stations on our cable system. All those ads for Cal Worthington (and his dog Spot), In N Out, Carpeteria, and all the amazing amusement parks made SoCal seem like some fairy tail land.

    dan c
  20. Dave Garrett

    Dave Garrett Forum Resident

    Houston, TX
    That must have been one of their older X1 boxes. Mine looks like this one and is dead silent. It does run pretty hot, though, and like many other cable boxes I'm sure it's a power hog as well.

    tmtomh likes this.
  21. Dude111

    Dude111 An Awesome Dude

    We had one also!! . Now that I look back on it,I wonder if ths box could be modified to get other channels also??

    Ah man!!
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  22. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Oh, that takes me back. I know people around here love analog audio, but lemme tell you, I do not miss analog video.
    longdist01 and Dan C like this.
  23. The Hud

    The Hud Where The Demons Dwell

    The oldest cable box I remember had the red channel numbers on the left of the front panel.
  24. quadjoe

    quadjoe Senior Member

    A few years ago my Comcast cable box (a Scientific Atlanta) failed. I took it to the Comcast store for a replacement, and they handed me a used one that reeked of cigarette smoke, which I immediately rejected. The young lady at the counter then offered me a slightly lower bill if I switched over to the Xfinity box. It was much better, though like others have reported, it ran hot.

    We moved to a new house back in Jan. of 2017, and I was delighted to find that our neighborhood had been built with AT&T fiber, so I signed up for their U-Verse package. I like it pretty well, though there are far too many infomercial channels which is how they bloat their claim of several hundred channels. Most of it is crap. Still picture and sound are good and the internet is gigabit so I'm happy with the speed. The shortcoming of the TV cable box is that the fan, while not loud is audible, and like the Xfinity box runs very hot.
  25. Frank Gannucci

    Frank Gannucci Active Member

    Ironically I have that Xfinity box and I had the first two boxes pictured in this thread. They technically (or at least the ones my Mom had) were remotes. It's just that they had a cord that attached to the box. The plus side is that you wouldn't have to worry about misplacing the remote. Bad thing is that people could trip over the wires and if your TV had a Nintendo system (like mine did), the controllers had a tendency to get tangled with the other cord.

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