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Philip Deming Hamlin

1917 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Philip Deming Hamlin Obituary
Philip Deming Hamlin

Cable TV Pioneer and Inventor

May 17, 1917 ~ January 25, 2014

Philip D. Hamlin died January 25th at his home in Normandy Park, WA. He was 96.

A West Seattle native*, Mr. Hamlin was a pioneer of the cable television industry. In 1949 he installed one of the world's first cable systems on Beach Drive in the Alki District. He went on to wire Lake Washington Blvd. and several other Seattle areas after obtaining the world's first municipal franchise from the City of Seattle.

Mr. Hamlin's life was colorful, to say the least. He graduated from West Seattle High School and briefly attended Whitman College before being invited to leave.

His affinity for electronics started with WWII, where in five years of active duty he rose from Private to Major while working in Radio and Radar Research. After the war he worked briefly in communications engineering for General Electric before his involvement in cable development. He always said, however, that he was unsuitable for employment, and therefore destined to work for himself. He began importing consumer electronics from Japan, and then started Hamlin's Audio Workshop, a stereo store that became a Seattle icon, manufacturing and selling his own design of speakers (the famous Hamlin Black Box) and amplifiers to private homes and public organizations such as the Pacific Science Center and Seattle Symphony.

Eighteen years after putting in the first Seattle area cable system, Mr. Hamlin again applied for and won a new franchise for the area of Seattle's Capitol Hill. But Mr. Hamlin's most lasting contribution to cable television was the invention of the "cable convertor". Old friends from his cable days asked him to design a "channel expander" to increase a TV set's capacity over the existing 12 channels and to overcome certain signal deficiencies. Hamlin designed the box to operate with a "slide switch"; the ubiquitous box and its successor designs became a fixture and still control both channel selection and Pay TV delivery in millions of homes throughout North America.

In his later years, Mr. Hamlin enjoyed traveling around the country with his beloved wife Millie in their custom motor home. An avid aviator, he owned and flew land and sea planes between his main home in Seattle and his 2nd and 3rd homes in Manson, Washington (Lake Chelan) and Deland, Florida, on the St. John's River. He never lost his love of flying and bitterly regretted having to give it up after heart surgery when he was in his early 70s.

Together, he and his wife shared a love of poodles, and he was never without one for the last 18 years of his life. Never a joiner, Mr. Hamlin belonged to the Seattle Yacht Club for 20 years, where he insisted on having his children receive sailing instruction, encouraging their lifelong enjoyment of boating. He resigned the Club from lack of interest.

Mr. Hamlin is survived by his daughter Harriet, son Harry, and dear friend and companion, Eiko Kondo. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Rescue Every Dog, P. O. Box 1741, Kingston, WA 98346, or online at www.rescueeverydog.org/html.

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Published in The Seattle Times from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2014
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