With today's Federal Communications Commission members taking regular flack from the television industry for being too deferential to the big telecom companies in areas such as spectrum allocation, it's easy to forget that the FCC has been staffed by people more sympathetic to broadcaster concerns. Among them was James Quello, who served on the FCC for 23 years after being appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1974. Quello, who had been a Detroit broadcasting executive prior to joining the FCC, helped the commission oversee a broad expansion of communications services including cable and satellite television, cellular phones and early Internet services. Quello was also on the FCC when the Justice Department decided to bust up AT&T, which had long wielded monopoly power over America's telecommunications industry. Quello died of heart and kidney disease in his home of Alexandria, Va., this past January.
Dr. Henry Edward "Ed" Roberts, 68
Roberts' claim to fame was building the Altair 8800 in the early 1970s, a machine that is credited with being the world's first personal computer. After reading about the Altair 8800 in Popular Mechanics magazine, two young software engineers named Bill Gates and Paul Allen contacted Roberts and asked if they could design and sell software for the computer. Gates and Allen's Altair software was to technology what Lennon-McCartney's "Love Me Do" was to rock'n'roll: a first collaboration that only hinted at major breakthroughs to come in the following years. Gates and Allen paid tribute to Roberts following his passing from pneumonia earlier this year, referring to him as both a friend and a mentor.
James A. Dwyer, Jr., 73
Dwyer is best remembered for his work in pushing wireless communications onto the American market, including his successful bid to lobby the FCC to let independent paging operators build cellular networks to compete with Ma Bell. Dwyer was a founding member of CTIA in 1984 and he served on its board of directors until 2000. He served as chairman of CTIA in 1995 and 1996 when Congress was pushing through the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Dwyer died this past August in his home in Fort Myers, Fla. after an extended illness.
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