Ralph J. Roberts founded Comcast Corporation with the purchase of a 1,200-subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1963. From Comcast's humble roots, Ralph went on to create a company that is the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone provider to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. The Company also owns NBCUniversal, which operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, local television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Additionally, Comcast has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team and the Wells Fargo Center, a large multipurpose arena in Philadelphia. At the time of his death, he served as Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Company's Board of Directors.
Before starting Comcast, Ralph was President and CEO of Pioneer Industries, a leading men's clothing accessories company, Vice President of Muzak Corporation, and an account executive with Aitken Kynett Advertising Agency.
Ralph graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1941, and served a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy. He also participated in continuing education programs at Harvard Business School.
Ralph, 95, was involved in numerous community and civic activities. At the time of his death, he served on the boards of the Council of Emeritus Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Brandywine Museum and Conservancy, as well as the Advisory Board of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition, and the Penn Medicine Board of Trustees. He previously served on the national and regional boards of the National Conference for Community and Justice (formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews). He was also a Charter Member of the World Business Council.
His business, entrepreneurial, and humanitarian endeavors have brought him many awards, including the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; induction in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame; the Cable Television Hall of Fame Award; and the Walter Kaitz Foundation Award for contributing to the cable industry's diversity efforts. He received the University of Pennsylvania's Joseph P. Wharton Award, an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Pennsylvania, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Holy Family College, and an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Arcadia University. In 2011, Babson College inducted him into their Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame, along with his son Brian.
He was honored by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith with its Americanism Award and by the National Conference of Christians and Jews with its Brotherhood Award. He received Philadelphia's Edward Powell Award given to the individual whose efforts most benefit the prosperity of the city of Philadelphia; the Police Athletic League Award; the Urban League of Philadelphia's Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for Leadership, Diversity and Excellence; the William Penn Award given by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce; the Trustees Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; and (jointly with his son Brian) the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award given by the UJA Federation.
Most recently, Ralph was presented (along with his wife, Suzanne) with the Philadelphia Award, in recognition of their lifetime contributions to the City of Philadelphia in the worlds of business, philanthropy, and arts and culture.