Cable modem development

RoadRunner/LineRunner: beginnings of broadband Internet to the home

Horseheads Cable Headend, in Elmira, NY

It’s around May-June 1995. Amazing today that high-speed Internet is so widespread that no one seems aware of the wonder of it all, the efforts and tribulations to develop the technology and the services during those early years.

Photo was taken during a visit by Time Warner Cable and Time Inc. executives to the site of a cablemodem trial in this small town of the Finger Lakes region. The occasion was the first presentation of the capabilities of “LineRunner Online”.
This early deployment integrated rather rudimentary Zenith cablemodems with an application and business support system built by HP using HP-UX as a platform. Content feeds were integrated to receive Pathfinder content from Time Inc., as well as several local content sites. And service gateways were available to provide access to online services CompuServe, Prodigy and AOL.

This pioneering trial was the precursor of the complete “Excalibur architecture” solution, built with contributions from such companies as HP, Toshiba, Motorola, Sun Microsystems, DEC, Microsoft, Cisco and others, that would be deployed commercially under the RoadRunner brand starting in 1996. Much of this technology was contributed and integrated into the industry-standard DOCSIS solutions we see all over the world today.

Due to the combination of my faulty memory and poor photo resolution I can only identify some of the people in the picture. In the front row, starting from the right side:

– Jim Chiddix – Time Warner Cable
– (gap)
– Mario Vecchi – Time Warner Cable/RoadRunner (in grey suit)
– Glen Britt – Time Warner Cable
– Randy Roswell – Elmira Cable Division
– Carl Rossetti – Time Warner Cable (back)
– Walter Isaacson – Time Inc.
– Dick Duncan – Time Inc./RoadRunner (back)
– Paul Sagan – Time Inc.
– (don’t recognize)
– (don’t recognize)

And two notable contributors should have been in this picture: Tim Evard (Time Warner Cable/RoadRunner) and Bob Rusak (Time Inc./RoadRunner).

If you recognize and remember other names from the picture, please send them to me and I will update the record. Hope you enjoy the memory! Thanks.

Mario Vecchi