Beautifully engraved RARE certificate from HBO - Home Box Office, Inc
printed in 1973. This historic document was printed by the American Banknote Company and has an
ornate border around it with a vignette of the company's logo. This item has the printed signature of the Company’s President, Gerald Levin and is over 48 years old. This is only the second time we have had this certificate for sale and we only have one.
Gerald M. Levin (b. 6 May 1939, Pennsylvania, USA) is an American businessman. He attended Haverford College, where he is a member of the Board of Directors. He spent most of his career with Time Inc. (later Time Warner, then AOL Time Warner), starting as a programming executive for Home Box Office (HBO) and eventually becoming CEO of the corporation. Levin is probably most famous for having brokered the merger between AOL and Time Warner in 2000, at the height of the Internet boom, a merger which seemed to many to be disadvantageous to Time Warner as the boom collapsed in the next few years.
HBO (Home Box Office) is an American premium cable television network. HBO airs theatrically released feature films, original television movies, and various original series, including The Sopranos, Oz, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Entourage, Sex and the City, Da Ali G Show, Rome, and Tales from the Crypt. HBO is operated by the Home Box Office Group, part of Time Warner.
HBO was the first cable network to originate as a non-terrestrial broadcast TV network. In 1965, cable pioneer Charles Dolan won the franchise to build a cable system in lower Manhattan. The new system, named Sterling Manhattan Cable by Mr. Dolan, was the nation's first urban underground cable system. Instead of stringing cable on telephone poles and using microwave antennas to receive the signals, Sterling laid underground cable beneath the streets of Manhattan because television signals were blocked by many tall buildings. Time Life, Inc., in the same year, purchased 20 percent of Dolan's company.
Dolan presented his "Green Channel" idea to Time Life management, and though satellite distribution was only a distant possibility at the time, he persuaded Time Life to back him, and soon "The Green Channel" became Home Box Office on November 8, 1972. HBO began using microwave to feed its programming. The first program aired over the pay-channel was a New York Rangers / Vancouver Canucks game, to a CATV system in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania (a plaque commemorating this event is found in Wilkes-Barre's downtown Public Square). Also on that night was the first film to be seen on HBO -- Sometimes a Great Notion, starring Paul Newman and Henry Fonda.
Sterling Manhattan Cable was rapidly losing money because the company had a small subscriber base of 20,000 customers in Manhattan. Dolan's media partner, Time Life, Inc., gained 80 percent control of Sterling and decided to pull the plug on the Sterling Manhattan operation. Time Life dropped the Sterling name to become Manhattan Cable Television and gained control of HBO in March, 1973. Gerald Levin
replaced Dolan as HBO's President and Chief Executive Officer. In September 1973 Time Life, Inc. completed its acquisition of the pay service. HBO was soon the fastest show in America on 14 systems in New York and Pennsylvania, but the churn rate was exceptionally high. Subscribers would sample the service for a few weeks, get weary of seeing the same films, and then cancel. HBO was struggling and something had to be done. When HBO first came to Lawrence, Massachusetts, the idea was to allow subscribers to preview the service for free on channel 3. After a month, the service moved to channel 6 and was scrambled. The preview proved popular, obtaining many subscriptions and the concept was used elsewhere. (Lawrence receives HBO on channel 301 today.)
On December 13, 1975, HBO became the first TV network to broadcast its signals via satellite when it showed the "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. On December 28, 1981, HBO expanded its programming schedule to 24 hours a day, seven days per week. (Cinemax was 24/7 from the day it signed on, and Showtime and The Movie Channel went 24 hours earlier.) In January 1986, HBO also became the first satellite network to encrypt its signal from unauthorized viewing by way of the Videocipher II System. Later, HBO was one of the first cable TV networks to broadcast a high-definition version of its channel.
1983 saw the premiere of HBO's first original movie and the first made-for-pay-TV movie, The Terry Fox Story.
HBO has been involved in several legal suits during the 1980s involving cable systems and legal statutes imposed by state and city laws that would have censored HBO and other pay-TV networks for programming that was considered "indecent."
In April 1986, HBO became a victim of broadcast signal intrusion when a man calling himself "Captain Midnight" intercepted the network's signal during a movie presentation. The man was later caught and was then prosecuted.
In 1991, HBO and Cinemax became the first premium services to offer multiplexed services to cable customers as companions to the main network, offering multiplex services of HBO (HBO2, renamed HBO Plus from 1998 to 2002) and Cinemax (Cinemax 2, now MoreMax) to three cable systems in Wisconsin, Kansas and Texas.
The move proved successful resulting in HBO and Cinemax launching additional multiplex channels of its service, HBO 3 (now HBO Signature, launched in 1995), HBO Family (launched in 1996), HBO Comedy & HBO Zone (launched in 1999) and HBO Latino, a Latino-themed channel of HBO (launched in 2000, HBO also had an HBO En Espanol, a Spanish-language service launched in 1988). Cinemax also launched the multiplex services Cinemax 3 (launched in 1996, launching again as ActionMax in 1998), ThrillerMax (launched in 1998) and WMax, @Max, OuterMax and 5StarMax (all launched in 2001).
Originally, HBO was part of Time Inc.. When Time merged with Warner Communications in 1989, it became part of Time Warner, who serves as its parent company today.
HBO has also developed a reputation for offering very high quality original programming. HBO is a subscription-only service and does not carry normal commercials; both of these factors relieve HBO from pressures to tone down controversial aspects in their programs, thus allowing for explicit themes, such as graphic violence, explicit sex, profanity, and drug use.
The network is currently received in roughly one-third of households in the United States. It can be quite expensive to acquire HBO because subscribers are generally required to pay for an extra "tier" of service even before paying for the channel itself (though all of the HBO channels are often priced together in a single package). Someone upgrading from a standard cable package might see their bill increase more than 40%. However, federal law requires that a cable system allow a person to get just basic cable (local broadcast channels) and HBO. Cable systems can require the use of a converter box (usually digital) to receive HBO.
Even in the days of the V-chip, the primary HBO channel still does not run unedited R rated films or TV-MA rated programming during the daytime. HBO's multiplex channels will do so (excluding HBO Family, which doesn't run R rated films at all and will generally run PG-13 rated films only between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).
Since TV critics are generally obliged to keep track of HBO, but the general public is not, the network's influence can be overstated. However, several HBO programs have been re-aired on other networks and local syndication (usually after some editing), and a number of them are also available on DVD. Interestingly, since HBO's more successful series, most notably the trio of Sex and the City, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under, are broadcast on non-cable networks in other countries, such as in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, HBO programming has the potential to be seen by a higher percentage of the population of those countries as compared to the U.S. Because of the high cost of HBO, many Americans only view HBO programs on DVDs or in basic cable or broadcast syndication, months or even years after the network has first broadcast the programs.
HBO has international operations in Latin America, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania (and Moldova), Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and South Asia(Bangladesh, India and Pakistan). It also had an early investment in New Zealand's SKY Network Television through the channel HBO (now Sky Movies). HBO plans to launch international operations in "key markets" of Europe (France, UK, Spain, Germany and Italy) and Japan.
Many television critics have given HBO a reputation for producing intelligent or challenging material not available elsewhere on TV. For example, Time Magazine TV critic James Poniewozik writes that "HBO specializes in intelligent, risky series that look at the dark side of American life." Feminist critic Lisa Johnson posits that HBO original programming often promotes feminist messages and challenges traditional notions of male patriarchy.
HBO has become somewhat of a media empire, owning the entire HBO and Cinemax family of networks as well as influence in television and film production.
In 1990, HBO launched HBO Independent Productions, a production company that produced mainly sitcoms for broadcast and basic cable television. HBO Downtown Productions was launched a year later producing comedy specials for the network as well as content for Comedy Central (which HBO formerly co-owned).
HBO also operates HBO Films, created in 1998 out of a merger of two separate small-scale film studios, HBO NYC Productions and HBO Pictures. HBO also operated another film division called HBO Showcase, which ceased in 1996 to form HBO NYC Productions.
HBO also had a couple of joint ventures, first, with the formation of TriStar Pictures with Columbia Pictures and CBS. Columbia later bought the two-thirds interest of the studio. Then, HBO merged its The Comedy Channel with Viacom's HA! cable network to form Comedy Central. HBO also had a joint venture with Liberty Media and many major cable companies in Movietime channel (now E!). In 1997, The Walt Disney Company and Comcast purchased control of E! In 2003, Viacom bought HBO's half of the Comedy Central channel and merged it to its MTV Networks unit. In 2005, HBO and New Line Cinema launched Picturehouse, an independent film distributor. HBO is the primary sponsor of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.
History from Wikipeida and OldCompanyResearch.com.
About Specimen Certificates
Specimen Certificates are actual certificates that have never been issued. They were usually kept by the printers in their permanent archives as their only example of a particular certificate. Sometimes you will see a hand stamp on the certificate that says "Do not remove from file".
Specimens were also used to show prospective clients different types of certificate designs that were available. Specimen certificates are usually much scarcer than issued certificates. In fact, many times they are the only way to get a certificate for a particular company because the issued certificates were redeemed and destroyed. In a few instances, Specimen certificates were made for a company but were never used because a different design was chosen by the company.
These certificates are normally stamped "Specimen" or they have small holes spelling the word specimen. Most of the time they don't have a serial number, or they have a serial number of 00000. This is an exciting sector of the hobby that has grown in popularity over the past several years.