10 July 2012

Transatlantic satellite TV at 50

Today, we take for granted being able to watch Wimbledon or the Olympic Games as they happen across an ocean. That only became possible on 10 July 1962, 50 years ago today, with the launch of the first Telstar satellite.

However, unlike today's geostationary communication satellites Telstar was in an orbit which meant service was intermittent. It required huge antennas to track the satellite, a far cry from today's pizza pan satellite TV dishes, part of the technology that allows extended families to keep in touch and, arguably, been a stimulus for the popularity of family history as a hobby.

Interestingly this was also the time when the world was at a peak of optimism, as shown by the Ngram.

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