Chaparral Communications Timeline

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Chaparral Communications 25th Anniversary

1980-2005

Before 1980……..

Thirty eight years ago events at Stanford and NASA created the foundation for a new communications system, Direct Broadcast Satellite or DBS. Many companies would spawn out of the innovations made during this time, including Chaparral Communications in 1980.

1967 Stanford University and NASA conduct the ASCEND¹ study. The purpose of the ASCEND study is to find a low cost and efficient way to distribute educational material, news, and entertainment in developing nations.

The ASCEND study determines that direct broadcasting and reception of television via very high powered satellites and small, low cost earth stations is the most efficient way for developing nations to disseminate television for communication.

ASCEND conceptual diagram- high powered satellite and thousands of inexpensive earth stations

1968 NASA in partnership with Stanford funds two doctoral candidates, Jim Janky and Bob Taggart to design this low cost earth station. This earth station is a complete diversion from current designs which have huge dishes and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Bob Taggart with ASCEND Earth Station at the Stanford foothills in 1970

Bob Taggart at Stanford University in 1970

Bob Taggart, Jim Janky, and Robert Goodchild at Stanford University in 1970

ASCEND Earth Station at Stanford test site in 1969

1970- Bob Taggart and Jim Janky present a paper on their low cost receiver design at the IEEE International Conference on Communications² in San Francisco. This new technology catches the attention of the editor of Microwaves Magazine³ who features it in the August 1970 issue.

Microwaves August 1970

1971: Dr. Albert L. Horley, Assistant Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, working with Federation of Rocky Mountain States, spearheads the implementation of educational television on the ATS-6 satellite.

1974:  NASA launches the ATS-6 satellite. ATS-6 broadcasts educational television to schools in Alaska, the Rocky Mountain States, Appalachia and India. ATS-6 is the first satellite to demonstrate the feasibility direct broadcasting to small earth stations like the ASCEND earth station designed by Taggart and Janky. Jim Janky is selected as Director of the Broadcast and Engineering, Federation of Rocky Mountain States, to implement this system. DBS is born.

ATS-6 Satellite in 1973

ASCEND Earth Station at Round Up, Montana in 1974 receiving TV from ATS-6 satellite

Educational Television in India broadcasted via ATS-6 in 1975

1976: HBO begins using using satellites to deliver programs to cable companies. Taylor Howard constructs a 15-foot antenna amplifier and receiver to receive these programs at his home. Home Satellite television is born. 1980 Bob Taggart starts Chaparral Communications in his garage. Chaparral’s first product is a redesigned 10’ version of the 7′ ASCEND antenna for home satellite reception.

Chaparral’s first product in Bob Taggart’s Garage in 1979. Al Horley (second from the right) was responsible for implementing DBS on the ATS-6 satellite in 1971.

1980: Bob Taggart meets Taylor Howard. They start working together and form a partnership to develop satellite products for Chaparral. Taggart and Taylor Howard design a feedhorn for the Chaparral dish. In July of 1980, Chaparral introduces the Superfeed. The Superfeed outperforms all other feedhorns on the market and becomes the best selling feedhorn in this new industry. Taylor Howard is elected President of the satellite industry trade association.

Taylor Howard and Bob Taggart at an early 1980s Trade Show

Bob Taggart and Taylor Howard at Chaparral’s Corporate Headquarters in 1989

Bibliography

  1. Stanford University School of Engineering, Advanced System for Communications and Education in National Development, 1967 [hereinafter cited as ASCEND].
  2. James M. Janky, Robert B. Taggart, Jr., Bruce B. Lusignan, Low Cost Receivers for Use in Instructional Broadcasting Via Satellites, a paper presented at the International Conference on Communications, IEEE, on June 16-18, 1970, in San Francisco.
  3. $200 Station Tunes in Satellites, Microwaves, August 1970, page 18.
  4. Bruce B. Lusignan, James M. Janky, Robert B. Taggart, Jr., Low Cost ETV Receivers, an article written for a book entitled, Communications Satellites for the 70’s: Technology, the MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., London, England, 1971.
  5. Low-Cost Quasi-Parabolic Antenna, NASA Technical Brief, 71-10121, Lewis Research Center, 1971.
  6. LOOKING BACK, Microwaves & RF, July 1996, page 168.
  7. Acierto, Rhonda, Turning Point: Bob Taggart, Silicon Valley BizInk , August 16, 2002, page 19.