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Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame: Daniel Aaron

Comcast LogoCountry of origin: Germany

Year came to U.S.: 1938

Education: MS Economics, Wharton School

Business: Comcast Corporation (1963)

Headquarters: Philadelphia, PA

2015 revenue: $74.5 billion

Worldwide employment: 153,000

Ranked 37 in the 2016 Fortune 500

 

  • A refugee from Nazi Germany and an orphan, Daniel Aaron was instrumental in Comcast’s founding and helped it grow into the largest cable company in the U.S.
  • After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he founded the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center.

 

Photo of Daniel Aaron, Comcast co-founderAs an orphan and refugee from Nazi Germany, Daniel Aaron didn’t have a promising future. He overcame adversity and went on to co-found the largest cable company in the U.S., Comcast.

Aaron’s father, a lawyer, politician and Jew, was briefly imprisoned by the Nazi’s in 1937. A year later, when Daniel Aaron was 12, the family escaped Germany and immigrated to Queens, New York. What was supposed to be a release from a life of adversity turned tragic when both his parents killed themselves in 1939 leaving him and his little brother in the foster care system.

In 1944, Aaron was not yet a U.S. citizen when he was drafted into the Army and returned to Germany in time to witness the liberation of slave laborers from concentration camps. After the war, he attended Temple University on the G.I. Bill and later earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Aaron’s first job was as a journalist in Philadelphia. While doing a story on Jerrold Electronics, he became fascinated with the early cable company and went to work for them a year later. In 1963, Aaron was invited to join Ralph J. Robert and Julian A. Brodsky in taking over a 1,200-subscriber cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi, which formed the foundation for Comcast Corporation.

Aaron handled Comcast’s operations and acquisitions of which there were many. Comcast built or acquired dozens of other cable systems and media properties including the purchase of NBC Universal in 2011. Today, Comcast Corporation is the nation’s leading cable company with roughly 22 million subscribers each for it’s TV and Internet offerings.

Aaron was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1980, which preceded his retirement in 1990 and his death in 2003. To help patients who could not afford treatment, he founded the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center at Pennsylvania Hospital. In 2001, he published his memoirs, “Take the Measure of the Man,“ and in 2002 he was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame.

Updated July 2016

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