A (Sort Of) Anniversary

I saw on a blog that today was the 55th anniversary of the first international broadcast via the communications satellite Telstar. Further research showed that the first broadcast was actually on July 23, but by then I had already planned on doing this post.

Fifty-five years (and one month) ago today, the three US television networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC) produced a program that was beamed to the UK and the rest of Europe via Telstar, hosted by Walter Cronkite and featuring views of Niagara Falls, Cape Canaveral, Wrigley Field in Chicago during a game between the Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies (subsequently lost by the Cubs, 5-3), the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mount Rushmore, the World’s Fair in Seattle, and others. They only had a window of about 15 minutes to show all of this, since they hadn’t quite gotten the geosynchronous orbit thing right yet. What follows is a video of that historic broadcast with commentary by Bill Turner, Station Manager at KOTA-TV in Rapid City, South Dakota on that day. His comments take up most of the first ten minutes of the video.

Later that year, the British instrumental rock group The Tornadoes recorded “Telstar,” which by December topped both the US and UK charts.

Any excuse to play that song…

11 thoughts on “A (Sort Of) Anniversary

  1. And now we think nothing of receiving transmission from around the world – except to whinge it isn’t fast enough!

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  2. George Altman was coming to bat when the satellite was going to Wrigley Field, and the umpire told him, “when we’re live on the satellite, you better swing, cuz I’m not calling it a ball no matter where it is.” He swung and flied out to deep right field.

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  3. Hi John – only a month late … not a problem. Loved the Telstar Tornadoes song … and incredible what’s been achieved in 55 years+ … cheers Hilary

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  4. I had no idea this was done by the big 3 and it was interesting and kind of funny when Walter had trouble getting the photo off that machine. I know the song from the 2nd video…reminds me of the theme from High Chapperal

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