The story of NBCUniversal reaches back more than a century and involves two visionary entrepreneurs, David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC, and Carl Laemmle, who created Universal. NBCUniversal was formed in 2004 when these two entities merged to create a media powerhouse owned by General Electric and Vivendi. With the company’s acquisition by Comcast, a third visionary entrepreneur takes his place alongside Sarnoff and Laemmle as a key figure in the annals of the company: Ralph J. Roberts, who in 1963 bought a tiny cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, setting in motion a remarkable American business success story called Comcast.
All three companies were founded by men of modest origins who were propelled by their visions of a new industry—movies, broadcasting, and cable distribution—and enthusiastic about the possibilities they represented for commerce and for the common good. Laemmle, Sarnoff, and Roberts dedicated themselves to turning their visions into the reality that represents Comcast and NBCUniversal today.
The story of Universal began in 1906 when German immigrant Carl Laemmle opened his first nickelodeon theater. Three years later, he established the Independent Moving Pictures Company of America, thus becoming involved in all three phases of film: production, distribution, and exhibition. On March 15, 1915, Laemmle officially opened the gates to Universal City, the world’s first self-contained community dedicated to moviemaking.
At about the same time, in New York City, a young Russian immigrant named David Sarnoff wrote a memo to his manager at the American Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. In his “Radio Music Box” memo, Sarnoff imagined a world connected by wireless communication that would bring information and entertainment into the home. This audacious vision would become reality in 1926 with the first broadcast of the National Broadcasting Company.
Through the remainder of the twentieth century, these two companies, Universal Studios and NBC, would create extraordinary legacies of accomplishment in the exciting new worlds of motion picture production and distribution, location-based entertainment, and radio and television production and broadcasting.
Today, as one of Comcast Corporation's two business units, NBCUniversal continues to break new ground as a leading global media and entertainment company.