TIMELINE: The history of Comcast

PHILADELPHIA - December 3, 2009

1963 - Ralph Roberts buys American Cable Systems, a 1,200-subscriber cable TV operator in Tupelo, Miss., for $500,000.

1969 - Company renamed Comcast - from "communications" and "broadcast."

1972 - Comcast shares trade publicly.

1988 - Following several acquisitions, Comcast buys 50 percent of Storer Communications Inc. to become the nation's fifth-largest cable TV operator, with more than 2 million subscribers.

1990 - Ralph Roberts' son, Brian, is named president.

1994 - Comcast jumps to third place in cable after buying Maclean Hunter's U.S. cable operations. Comcast now has 3.3 million subscribers. Comcast and partners invest in The Golf Channel.

1996 - Comcast buys majority ownership of Spectacor - owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and two arenas - and acquires the Philadelphia 76ers. Comcast also forms regional sports cable channel in Philadelphia. It launches its first high-speed Internet service - in Baltimore.

1997 - Microsoft Corp. invests $1 billion in Comcast. Comcast buys a controlling interest in E! Entertainment.

2001 - Comcast acquires Outdoor Life Network, now called Versus, and expands investment in The Golf Channel for a controlling interest.

2002 - Comcast buys AT&T Broadband cable systems to become the nation's largest cable TV operator, with 22 million customers. Comcast unveils high-definition TV and video-on-demand services. Brian Roberts takes on the additional role of CEO.

2004 - Comcast makes unsuccessful hostile bid for Walt Disney Co., owner of ABC and ESPN television networks, movie studios and theme parks, for $54 billion. Brian Roberts adds chairman to his titles of president, CEO.

2005 - Comcast joins a group of investors to buy a 20 percent stake in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio. Comcast unveils digital phone service and creates division to develop the company's Web portals and acquire Internet businesses.

2006 - Comcast signs video-on-demand distribution deal for Disney content and buys out Disney's stake in E! Entertainment and The Style Network. Comcast and Time Warner Inc.'s cable division buy the assets of bankrupt Adelphia Communications and swap certain systems. Comcast hits 24 million subscribers.

2008 - Comcast and other companies invest in wireless broadband provider Clearwire Corp.

2009 - Comcast continues to attract DSL subscribers from phone companies to become the nation's largest Internet service provider. It also becomes the third-largest phone company. GE agrees to sell controlling stake in NBC Universal to Comcast, a deal that would reshape entertainment industry.

SOURCES: Comcast Corp., AP research

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