Tv Mushrooms in the Backyard

Satellite dishes are pulling in a galaxy of viewers

Only a few years ago, satellite-dish antennas were curiosities of the communications age, sprouting up near laboratories and in an occasional rural backyard where TV reception was poor. Nosy neighbors used to wonder if the person owning one might even be a spy. No longer. Suddenly the dishes, or earth stations, as they are called, are a booming industry.

Some 60,000 of them are being sold each month, and industry officials predict that the 1.2 million dish systems now installed will multiply to 10 million by 1990. Prices have declined sharply. Five years ago, a good system cost between $10,000 and...

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