The Company’s Founder Invented Cable TV and Changed the World 75 Years Ago
Lehigh Valley, PA – June 1, 2023 – Service Electric, a trailblazing cable television and communications company, is commemorating its 75th anniversary this year. Originally established as a modest appliance store, Service Electric experienced a transformative journey under the leadership of its founder, John Walson, ultimately revolutionizing the world of communications.
Seventy-five years ago, in 1948, John Walson ascended to the summit of New Boston Mountain in Mahanoy City, PA, where he erected an antenna. This was no ordinary antenna; it marked the dawning of a new television era, reshaping the world as we know it and giving birth to cable TV.
John Walson’s visionary quest was to bring television to the residents of Mahanoy City, a town nestled in a valley that rendered over-the-air signals inaccessible. He brought the signal down the mountain to his appliance store, eventually connecting homes in the town. This marked the inception of cable television, which rapidly captivated audiences far and wide.
The growth of Service Electric was swift, extending its services to neighboring communities. Throughout the subsequent decades, the company maintained a commitment to innovation, introducing new services that left an indelible mark.
In 1969, Service Electric introduced TV2, a channel delivering local sports, news, and events to subscribers. The nightly evening newscasts were the first live color news shows produced by a cable television company in the country. Just three years later, in 1972, Service Electric became the first cable TV company to offer Home Box Office (HBO) pay TV channel, forever changing the television landscape.
Following the passing of Mr. Walson in 1993, his eldest son, John E. Walson Jr., assumed the helm of the company, further expanding Service Electric’s reach into broadband and fiber optic technologies. In 1994, Service Electric spearheaded the creation of PenTeleData, a partnership between five regional companies, which has since created a fully redundant fiber optic network with more than 10,000 miles of fiber optics. A year later, Service Electric introduced the Internet to the Lehigh Valley with ProLog dial-up service. In 1998 they began offering telephone service and in 1999 introduced two-way cable modems for Internet service.
Simultaneously, Walson Jr. fostered a culture of philanthropy within the community. Today, under the guidance of John M. Walson III, Service Electric proudly celebrates its 75th anniversary, flourishing as the largest privately held internet provider to homes and businesses in the Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre, PA, and Hunterdon County, NJ.
The company’s enduring legacy is firmly entrenched in the Greater Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre, where it thrives as both a business leader and a community partner. Service Electric continuously bolsters its positive reputation through its support of various charities and nonprofit organizations, generously contributing over a million dollars each year in the form of goods, services, and monetary donations. Esteemed beneficiaries include Valley Youth House, ArtsQuest, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hispanic Center, Cay Galgon Life House, Diakon Adoption and Foster Care, among many others.
In the past year alone, Service Electric has made a profound impact through notable events such as the John E. Walson, Jr. Memorial Golf & Pickleball Tournament, which raised $365,000 to benefit Valley Youth House. Additionally, Service Electric donated services to Valley Youth House’s Camp Fowler, providing camp-wide WiFi connectivity. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley also benefits from two major fundraising events annually, namely, the John E. Walson, Jr. “Golf for Kids’ Sake” and “Bowl for Kids’ Sake.” Furthermore, Service Electric collaborated with the 2022 USGA Senior Open, hosting volunteers and offering an unforgettable ‘golf experience’ to numerous children through local charities.
Service Electric’s 75th anniversary stands as a testament to the company’s unwavering determination and dedication to innovation. Its founder, John Walson, was a true visionary who revolutionized the television landscape, leaving behind a remarkable legacy that endures to this day. Moreover, SECTV continues to provide exceptional services to the Greater Lehigh Valley region, including comprehensive coverage of hundreds of high school and collegiate sports events each year, along with exclusive access to Musikfest, IronPigs baseball, and Phantoms hockey. The company has made a significant impact on the region through its philanthropic endeavors and unwavering commitment to delivering top-notch services to its valued customers.
Information provided to TVL by:
Service Electric Cable TV & Communications