Why do cables have F connectors?

Yeah, you know what we’re talking about. The “F” connector is that screw-on connection used for your antenna, satellite and possibly even your cell booster. It’s so common you probably don’t even think about it.

The “F” connector doesn’t seem to have been named for anything (unlike the “N” connector for example which was named for its inventor Paul Neill.) If may have been named because it works for RF, UHF, and VHF, which all have the letter F in them, but that’s just speculation. What is known is that it was invented in the 1950s and became common on TVs when antennas started using 75 ohm cable.

The “F” connector has a lot going for it. Because it uses the center conductor of the cable as its center pin, it’s both less expensive to make and provides a slightly better signal. Its screw-on outside makes it secure and watertight when used with weather boots, and the connector itself forms a good shield (except when it’s a push-on type, which is why push-ons are not used for satellite or other high-frequency use.)

In addition to all that, the “F” connector is compact, especially compared to the larger connectors used in the 1940s and 1950s. It’s about the size of an RCA connector (the one used to connect audio devices) but has better shielding and better performance. What’s not to like?