Saturday, March 1, 2014

Retro Saturday: Telstar

Click the arrow to watch the video on YouTube. Video source: AT&T Tech YouTube channel.

This week's Retro Saturday film is Telstar, a 1962 documentary about the first satellite to relay television signals between the United States and Europe.

Telstar 1 launched atop a Thor-Delta from Cape Canaveral's Pad 17B on July 10, 1962.

According to the AT&T web site:

The first television picture relayed from earth to space and back occurred on July 10, 1962. The transmission, which showed the American flag waving in front of the Earth Station in Andover, Maine, was made possible when NASA launched AT&T's Telstar, the world's first active communications satellite, at four thirty-five that morning ...

That evening, AT&T President Frederick Kappel picked up a phone in Andover and placed a call. Vice President Lyndon Johnson in Washington, D.C., answered. The call — the first ever transmitted through space — was relayed via Telstar. Within 30 minutes, Telstar produced several other firsts: successfully transmitting faxes, high-speed data, and both live and taped television. Portions of the television transmission were successfully received in France — the first live transmission of television across an ocean.

More elaborate television demonstrations followed later that month, including countries from Norway to Italy sending programs westward, and the United States sending programs east.

Telstar 1 is also considered to be the first launch of a commercial payload.

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