General Instrument

General Instrument (GI) was an American electronics manufacturer based in Horsham, Pennsylvania, specializing in semiconductors and cable television equipment. The company was active until 1997, when it split into General Semiconductor (power semiconductors, which was later acquired by Vishay Intertechnology in November 2001), CommScope and NextLevel Systems.

General Instrument

NextLevel Systems, the former GI cable and satellite TV division, took over the General Instrument name in February 1998. The new (post-split) GI Corporation was acquired by Motorola in January 2000 for $17 billion and became the new Broadband Communication Sector (BCS)[1] along with an acquisition of Zenith Network Systems a few months later. After being called Connected Home Solutions, it was renamed Home and Networks Mobility in 2007. When Motorola split on January 4, 2011, this division became part of Motorola Mobility. On December 19, 2012, ARRIS announced that it would acquire Motorola Mobility's Home unit (the former General Instrument company) from Google for $2.35 billion in cash and stock.[2][3] The acquisition was completed on April 17, 2013.[4] On November 8, 2018, CommScope announced that it would acquire ARRIS in a cash deal valued at $7.4 billion including the repayment of debt. This acquisition brings back together two of the former General Instrument companies from the 1997 split.[5]

Moses Shapiro, father of former Monsanto head Robert B. Shapiro, was Chairman from 1969 to 1975. Frank G. Hickey served as chief executive officer from 1975 to 1990, as did Donald Rumsfeld from 1990 to 1993.[6]

VideoCipher Division

General Instrument produced receivers for old C and Ku band satellites. They also produced Videocipher units as well as digital equipment. 4DTV was a system for picking up free and encrypted analog and digital satellite subscription channels. It also included an interactive guide. The product line included:

  • 2700 Series: on screen displays, C/Ku switching, digital sound, satellite memory increases with the model number.
  • 2600 Series: similar to 2400 except with on-screen displays.
  • 2400/2500 Series: There were no on-screen displays: everything was controlled from the remote and front panel. Two alphanumeric displays indicated the current satellite and transponder. A GI 2000PS was needed to use a dish motor. Digital Stereo Audio was available on VideoCipher channels, C/Ku compatible. The 2400 was re-branded in the early 1990s by Rural Cable and sold with a fixed C band dish pointed at Galaxy 5.
  • 350 Regular: simple receiver with a separate dish mover (some will have a stationary G5 satellite).
  • 350i Super: extensive on-screen displays, 50 satellites (C or Ku with external switch), digital sound.
  • 450i/550i/650i: extensive on-screen displays, C/Ku pre-programmed satellites, digital sound, extras.
  • 4DTV: interactive program guide, two favorite lists, C/Ku band, many other features.
  • InfoCipher 1500P: an early satmodem used with one-way data services, such as X*Press X*Change.

American Totalisator Corporation/AmTote

American Totalisator was a division of General Instrument Corp. It manufactured tote boards for the horse racing industry. It is now owned by horse-track operator Magna Entertainment Corporation.

Underseas Lab (Harris ASW)

Underseas Lab, a division of General Instrument Corp., located in Westwood, Massachusetts. It invented and manufactured multibeam sonars used in ocean floor mapping. It was acquired by Channel Technologies and is now owned by L-3 Communications.


Jerrold was GI's original cable TV brand, active from 1948 into the early 1990s. Around 1993, GI dropped the Jerrold name from their product lines. The Jerrold brand was prominent on both addressable and non-addressable cable TV converter boxes that were used on non-cable ready sets and cable-ready sets with premium pay services. "Jerrold" is the middle name of the company's founder, Milton Jerrold Shapp, who became Pennsylvania's 40th governor in 1971. Shapp's given name was Milton Shapiro.

GI Microelectronics

GI Microelectronics was a manufacturer of LSI circuits and a pioneer in MOS technology and Electrically Alterable ROM (EAROM), with both off-the-shelf and custom circuits. GI spun the division off as Microchip Technology in 1987.[7]

In 1980, their product catalog included:

Other products included the famous AY-3-8910/11/12/14 series of sound chips, the AY-3-85xx, 86xx, 87xx series of game chips[8] and a single-chip speech synthesizer, the SP0256 Narrator. A version of the SP0256 appeared in Mattel's Intellivoice. The popular SP0256-AL2 variant came with a set of allophones built in.

In 1965, Frank Wanlass moved to General Instrument Microelectronics Division in New York. Wanlass and other GI engineers promoted four-phase logic throughout the industry.[9] J. L. Seely, manager of MOS Operations at General Instrument Microelectronics Division, also wrote about four-phase logic in late 1967.[10]

See also


  1. "Motorola acquires GI". CNET. Jan 2000. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  2. ARRIS Group, Inc. (December 19, 2012). "ARRIS To Acquire Motorola Home Business For $2.35 Billion In Cash And Stock" (Press release). Thomson Reuters.
  3. Tess Stynes (December 20, 2012), "Google Sells Cable-Box Unit for $2.35 Billion", The Wall Street Journal, p. B2
  4. "ARRIS Acquires Motorola Home: Creates Premier Video Delivery and Broadband Technology Company Powerful Combination Transforms Industry, Accelerates Innovation" (Press release). April 17, 2013.
  5. "CommScope To Acquire Arris International In About $7.4 Bln Deal, Incl. Debt". 2018-11-08. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  6. "GI chooses Rumsfeld as CEO". Multichannel News. October 1990.
  7. "General Instrument Microelectronics Renamed Microchip Technology Incorporated as Wholly Owned Subsidiary". 14 December 1987. Archived from the original on 13 December 2004. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  8. "PONG in a chip". Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  9. Ross Knox Bassett. "To the Digital Age: Research Labs, Start-up Companies, and the Rise of MOS Technology". 2007. p. 130.
  10. J. L. Seely (March 1967). "Advances in the state-of-the-art of MOS device technology". Solid State Technology. 10: 55–62.
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