How Cbus’ QUBE exploded future of American TV

By Danny Hamen

Originally appeared in (614) Magazine December 2017.

What if we told you that you, the viewer, could digitally participate in political surveys, game shows, the local news, sports broadcasts?

Now, what would you say if we told you that this technology was developed and implemented in 1977, precisely 40 years ago this month—and that if it weren’t for this technology and the industry-shaking revolution it triggered, there would be no MTV, ESPN, Nickelodeon, no Home Shopping Network, no Pay-Per-View.  

Now, what if we told you that this technological revolution began here in Columbus, Ohio, in three studios off Olentangy River Rd. and one in the old Westland Mall.

Would you believe?

Welcome to QUBE TV.

“We were innovating what would be the birth of a small internet,” said Jon Cornell, one of the historians of QUBE. “In the process, we created Nickelodeon. We created MTV. We were the first to do at-home shopping. It was extremely innovative for its time.”

Another eager creative who was living in Columbus during the genesis of the QUBE network was Jim Jinkins, the guy who would later go on to create influential ‘90s cartoon, Doug.

“This was all happening ahead of the computer explosion. This was essentially a form of a computer. It was a box in your home that gave an electronic impulse that went back to the studio. Nothing like that existed before QUBE.”

For QUBE to have such an influence on the digital world without the general public really knowing or acknowledging it much all these years later … well, in many ways that just about sums up the ethos of our city: the perpetually and inexcusably overlooked, the zealous kid in the group project who did all the work and got none of the credit, the one always forgotten in the upper middle of the pack.

Go figure.

Read way, way more about QUBE, including how it actually worked and their downfall, at (614) Magazine


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