Bob Magness, Cable Industry Pioneer, Dead at 72
Nov. 17, 1996
DENVER (AP) _ Bob Magness, who ran a tiny cable television company out of his kitchen before building Tele-Communications Inc. into the nation's largest cable provider, has died of cancer. He was 72.
Magness, a billionaire listed by Forbes Magazine as Colorado's second-richest businessman, died at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville late Friday. He had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma.
Magness was ``a truly remarkable person who built a company and an industry from the ground floor up,'' said TCI President John Malone, who was hired by Magness in 1972.
Magness created his first cable system 40 years ago in Memphis, Texas, climbing poles and stringing wires while his first wife, Betsy, ran the operation from their kitchen. They had 700 subscribers.
He created the cable provider Community Television Inc. and its microwave distribution partnership, Western Microwave Inc., merging the two to create TCI when he moved to Denver in 1968. The company went public two years later and now has 14 million subscribers nationwide.
Listed by Forbes behind Denver oilman Phil Anschutz as Colorado's richest businessman, Magness was worth an estimated $1 billion.
Gov. Roy Romer, a close friend to Magness, called him one of Colorado's greatest citizens.
``He was a man with as large a heart as anyone I know in Colorado,'' Romer said. ``He was generous, and his wisdom and vision in knowing where cable was going years ago brought a lot to Colorado.''
Magness had been TCI's chairman since giving the chief executive duties to Malone in 1973.
But he remained involved in the company, recently presiding over TCI's plans to spin off its broadcast satellite television subsidiary into a company analysts estimate would be worth up to $3 billion.
Magness is survived by his wife, two sons, Kim and Gary, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.