| Coop founded CADCO, the Community Antenna Development Company, in 1970, to manufacture CATV headend and distribution equipment. From its offices in Oklahoma City, CADCO manufactured and sold an extensive line of headend and distribution products. CADCO counted many small "mom-and-pop" CATV companies, as well as several larger companies, among its customers.
By the early 1970s, the FCC and Congress were beginning to take notice of the burgeoning CATV industry. The television broadcast industry had for years been complaining about this upstart industry, particularly the CATV industry's practice of "leapfrogging" — importing distant independent television broadcast stations into local markets and offering them in competition with local broadcast stations.
In 1973, at the behest of the broadcasters, the FCC proposed a new set of rules to govern the CATV industry. As Coop points out in the Prologue to the articles that follow, these new rules were so onerous that many CATV operators would have been forced out of business. In response to this new threat, Coop joined forces with the owners of several small CATV operating companies to form CATA, the Community Antenna Television Association. In an effort spearheaded by Coop himself, CATA successfully petitioned the FCC to relax the rules.
Throughout this effort, Coop had continued to serve as CEO of CADCO. This situation soon drew the attention of larger CATV operators, many of whom were not sympathetic to the plight of smaller CATV operators. Some larger operators even threatened to boycott CADCO's products because of Coop's involvement with CATA. Faced with having to choose between CADCO and CATA, Coop chose CATA and sold his interest in CADCO.
Soon thereafter, Coop launched a monthly publication called Community Antenna Television Journal (CATJ), a freewheeling journal combining industry news, detailed technical articles, and pointed political analysis. With Coop himself as editor, CATJ grew rapidly and soon became an important political voice on behalf of small CATV operators.
In 1975, HBO began distributing its signal nationwide by satellite. It was soon joined by two other video services: Ted Turner's Atlanta UHF broadcast station WTCG (now TBS Superstation) and Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN, now ABC Family). Other program services soon followed. Suddenly, CATV operators had access many new program services.
But FCC regulations in force at the time imposed onerous technical and legal requirements on satellite ground stations, even TV receive-only (TVRO) antennas. Most small CATV operators were not able to afford the cost of complying with these regulations. Once again, CATA successfully petitioned the FCC to relax the rules. After the new rules took effect, the cost of a C-Band TVRO fell by two orders of magnitude. Numerous companies entered the TVRO manufacturing business, many offering TVROs for as little as $1000.
Programmers responded by launching even more programming. Some of the most famous brands on the cable dial appeared during this era, including CNN, C-SPAN, USA Network, and ESPN. TVROs began sprouting up at CATV headends across the country.
At this point in time, program signals were not encrypted (scrambled) because, under the general provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, reception of any radio signal by any unauthorized party was prohibited. Nevertheless, within a few years, C-Band TVROs began sprouting up everywhere: at motels and hotels, at apartment and condo buildings, at service clubs, and in residential neighborhoods. Countless entrepreneurs entered the business of selling and installing privately owned TVROs. Federal law notwithstanding, the sales pitch "the programming is free" proved to be a powerful sales tool. The era of the backyard dish was born.
At this point, our friend Coop jumped ship. He withdrew from the CATV industry, resigned from CATA, abandoned CATJ, and joined the backyard dish boys. Some folks in the CATV industry, including me, felt betrayed. But, as Coop points on in his Prologue, he had his reasons.
A few months later, Coop founded a publication for the backyard dish community, called Coop's Satellite Digest. As irreverent and as technically oriented as CATJ had been, CSD grew quickly and soon became the voice of the backyard dish community. Beginning in 1983 Coop also published a companion publication, Cooper James Report (CJR, subsequently renamed CSD2), for TVRO manufacturers and distributors.
Meanwhile, the CATV industry — by now calling itself the cable television industry — continued to do battle with the backyard dish folks. In 1984, Congress enacted the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984  which, among other things, contained language making it illegal for any private party to receive satellite programming if the programmer provided a "marketing system" under which a TVRO owner could purchase the right to view the programming. This, of course, proved to be as unenforceable as the 1934 law had been.
But 1984 law did have one effect: it motivated the satellite programmers to encrypt ("scramble") their signals. Once again, HBO led the effort, offering all CATV companies a "Videocipher" descrambler, at no charge, for every headend equipped to carry HBO. Other programmers followed suit, and within a few years, most advertising-supported video services were scrambled.
Meanwhile, another industry had appeared on the horizon: direct broadcast satellite, or DBS. DBS was designed for use with smaller (24- to 36-inch aperture) antennas and digitally-encrypted signals. DBS spelled the death of the C-Band backyard dish, if not the industry itself. Some of the entrepreneurs that built the industry embraced DBS and became DBS dealers. But that's another story.
As for Coop, this story ends unhappily. Facing a lawsuit filed by GI over certain CSD articles describing the technology underlying GI's VideoCipher descrambler, Coop ceased publication after the April 1987 issue. Coop relates this story starting on Page 4 (PDF Page 6) of that issue.
In 2010, Coop contacted The Old CATV Equipment Museum, offering us the right to republish his entire collection of journals. He personally scanned them for us. And here they are, available on the web for the first time.
These are large files, so please be patient.