Showing posts with label Telstar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Telstar. Show all posts

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Telstar!

There was a time that hope sprang eternal, even though the Russkies and we were ready to blow one another to Kingdom Come.

And once upon a time, government and business leaders waxed rhapsodic about how this new communications satellite might bring the world together in peace and brotherhood. In 1962, no one could foresee how this modern miracle of technology would lead to cable-news networks whose business model depends on angry viewers and yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

Another misguided reason for optimism that year was that Snooki had not yet been born. If we knew then what we know now, we actually might have gone for the "nuclear option."

The real nuclear option.

OF COURSE, none of this is Telstar 1's fault. Telstar was a modern miracle of technology.

It did link the continents via television for the first time.

We could have used it to foster peace and brotherhood among peoples and countries.

Instead, we used the advent of the communications satellite for Fox News, MSNBC . . . and Snooki. Our bad.

What we at 3 Chords & the Truth find to be beyond dispute is that Telstar 1's launch and activation 50 years ago this week changed the world. Drastically. It changed communications. Drastically. It ushered in a new era of the shrinking planet.

And, if you think about it, most of the massive change spurred by a little satellite in July 1962 was for the good and not the Snooki. This is why this edition of the Big Show celebrates the little artificial moon that could . . . and did.

Welcome to the Telstar tribute on 3 Chords & the Truth. You'll be surprised at how much really good music a tribute to the first communications satellite can include.

RANDOM THOUGHT: It's too bad we retired the space shuttle. We could have flown out to Telstar 1 -- yes, it's still in orbit . . . silent, but in orbit -- tied some black balloons with "50" printed in white to an antenna, taped a stupid-looking party hat to some solar cells and then put an "Old Fart" T-shirt on the venerable bird.

It would have been great.

Be that as it may. . . .

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep there. Aloha.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

'I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat'

"Can I have an 'E'?"

Oh, I'm sorry, there's no 'E.' Telstar . . . it's your spin.

"Can I have an 'S'?"

There is one 'S.'

"I'd like to solve . . . The Tornados!"
With "Telstar" from the summer of '62."

1962 + 50: Live via satellite

Fifty years ago day before yesterday, the only way to get a TV picture from one side of the ocean to the other -- barring freak occurrences with the ionosphere -- was to put a videotape on a fast jet plane.

Fifty years ago yesterday, that changed when Telstar 1 relayed its first television signal from Maine to France, an act so revolutionary that the little satellite was memorialized with a Top-40 hit record.

And 50 years ago today came the first official transatlantic satellite broadcast.The
Los Angeles Times remembers:
"With Telstar and its successors, the world was made a smaller place, as billions of people around the world had instant access to news, sports and entertainment," said Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs, which designed and manufactured Telstar. "The phrase 'live via satellite' became part of the common vernacular."

Researchers had been working for nearly a decade trying to develop some technique for space-based communications. One outgrowth of those attempts was the Echo series of satellites -- large, metal-coated balloons that served as passive reflectors for electronic signals. The balloons were used for transmitting microwave signals and as marker beacons in the sky that helped improve navigation for intercontinental ballistic missiles. But they were not large enough to handle the information required for a television signal.

Telstar could. The 72-sided satellite was about 34 inches in diameter. Solar panels on each of the faces powered 19 rechargeable batteries not unlike those used in flashlights. The amplifier could boost a signal 10 billion times before relaying it to Earth. The satellite was originally designed to handle two black-and-white television channels and 600 simultaneous telephone calls, but weight restrictions on the Delta launch vehicle made it necessary to lose one of the television boosters.

The satellite was launched two days earlier, on July 10, and some preliminary tests were conducted before the first official transmission on the 12th.

HERE'S A COUPLE of fascinating looks at yet another of the 1960s age of miracles,- the launch of Telstar 1. The first, above, is a Bell System documentary about the little satellite that could -- and did -- which was its baby.

THE SECOND is from the other side of the Atlantic -- a British look at Telstar 1, as part of a fascinating look at the history of what the English television types call "outside broadcasts."

Get your geek on and enjoy.