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Rogers Communications Inc.
by: Ian Anthony, Rogers Historian

logo.gif (732 bytes)Edward Samuel Rogers Sr. stands as a prominent inventor within Canadian communications technology heritage. ‘Ted’ Rogers had his interest sparked as a youth in 1911 when learning about wireless telegraph in school. He built his own telegraph set to send and monitor Morse Code signals. In 1912 he heard messages about the sinking of R.M.S. Titanic on his telegraph, and in 1914 received short-wave reports of the Declaration of World War 1 – he posted a notice about this before Toronto newspapers reported it. He honed his skills further in his late teens while being a Marconi Operator aboard Great Lakes passenger vessels such as the Noronic. His participation in a 1921 radio contest resulted in sending a signal from Newmarket, Ontario to Androssan, Scotland. He was the only Canadian to achieve the feat, making it more impressive by the fact that he was using a one-half kilowatt spark transmitter from 500 miles inland. Ted Rogers also became the first Canadian amateur to send a transatlantic signal, and newspaper accounts described him as a "Wireless Wizard".

Ted Rogers made a remarkable achievement which revolutionized communications in 1924. He invented the world’s first successful alternating current radio tube in the world. Radios could now operate from household electricity rather than batteries – a major breakthrough in home entertainment as issues of recharging, acid leaks, and a persistent ‘hum’ during operation were now eliminated. Mr. Rogers next constructed a modified radio chassis which could utilize his new tube, and at the 1925 Canadian National Exhibition, he introduced the ‘Rogers Batteryless Radio’ – the first successful all-electric radio in the world.

Rogers Radios quickly became a commercial success due to their convenience, high-quality sound, and style. This prompted Mr. Rogers to create a companion to the Batteryless Radio in the form of a broadcasting station. He knew using electricity rather than batteries would provide a clearer reproduction of vocal and musical tones. He designed a special transmitter to use Rogers A/C Tubes and in 1927 radio station CFRB Toronto went on the air. The call-letters chosen by Ted Rogers represent ‘Canada’s First Rogers Batteryless’. The broadcast strength and strong clarity of CFRB, the first all-electric station in the world, made it one of the best in North America.

A profound tragedy struck in May 1939 when at age 38 Edward S. Rogers Sr. passed away suddenly due to complications from an internal hemorrhage. Among the many honours bestowed on Edward S. Rogers Sr. are a Commemorative Postage Stamp and a Provincial Historic Site Plaque. He inspired his son and namesake Edward S. ‘Ted’ Rogers Jr. to pursue a career in telecommunications.

While still articling as a lawyer, Ted Rogers Jr. partnered with media personality Joel Aldred and newspaper publisher John Bassett in 1959. Together they launched the first private television station in Toronto, CFTO - whose inaugural telecast occurred January 1, 1960. In September, Mr. Rogers acquired CHFI-FM, the first FM station in Canada, which at that time was viewed as a novelty. This changed dramatically when Mr. Rogers contracted Westinghouse Canada to produce stylish, inexpensive tabletop FM receivers of his design. The increased exposure and high-quality sound of CHFI allowed it to become a leader in the Toronto radio market. This success prompted Mr. Rogers to launch a sister station in 1962, CHFI-AM, later renamed as CFTR and reformatted in 1991 into 680News – the first all news radio station in Canada.

Ted Rogers ventured into cable television when he acquired Bramalea Telecable in July 1967, and one year later, Rogers Cable TV served subscribers in Toronto. Successful merges with Canadian Cablesystems Limited (1979) and Premier Cablevision (1980), made Rogers Cablesystems the largest cable provider in Canada at the time. Rogers Cable became recognized as a technological leader in the industry, being the first to introduce Cable Converters in Toronto, the first to expand beyond 12 channels, and being instrumental in the development of fibre-optic cable, digital television, and interactive television.

Canadians were introduced to cellular telephones in 1985 when Mr. Rogers launched "Cantel". This operation later expanded into paging and high-speed data transfer. Strategic alliances strengthened the position of the company, and provided a new name: "Rogers AT&T".

During the mid-1990’s, Ted Rogers spearheaded high-speed internet access via cable lines, meaning Canadians could now enjoy the luxury of rapid use of the world wide web. He also orchestrated a successful merger with MacLean Hunter Limited which permited entry into multi-media pursuits with new specialized magazines and internet services tailor-made for the Canadian public.

Whether in the form of radios, cable television, wireless devices or multi-media, the Family and companies with the "Rogers" name have established a long history of pioneering new technologies for Canadians to enjoy the best features of home entertainment, information access, and interpersonal communication.

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