Updated: 25/07/2012 13:46 | By pa.press.net

Satellite TV hits 50-year milestone

It has become such an integral part of life that we take it for granted - live television pictures beamed via satellites bringing everything from war to football into the living room.


Monday marks 50 years since the first public satellite television images were beamed across the Atlantic from the United States to Britain

Monday marks 50 years since the first public satellite television images were beamed across the Atlantic from the United States to Britain

It has become such an integral part of life that we take it for granted - live television pictures beamed via satellites bringing everything from war to football into the living room.

Monday marks 50 years since the first public satellite television images were beamed across the Atlantic from the United States to Britain and mainland Europe.

The broadcast came against the backdrop of the Cold War, a year after Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first man in space.

The images were a changing point for British culture, according to Iain Logie Baird, grandson of television pioneer John Logie Baird and curator of broadcast culture at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

"It wasn't actually the first satellite broadcast but because it was seen by so many people when it was on, it had a tremendous impact on people's perception of distance and extension of their consciousness," he said.

"Their perception of the world had changed. Suddenly you could see across the ocean as easily as you could make a phone call."

With live footage beamed from all corners of the globe today it is hard to grasp how much faster satellite transmissions made delivering news and other images.

Prior to Telstar, Mr Baird said, people had to record on to tapes, which would then be flown to the destination country, meaning there could be a delay of hours if not days before they were broadcast.

The Telstar satellite, which belonged to telecommunications giant AT&T, was launched by Nasa at 4.35am on July 10 1962, and the first television picture relayed from earth to space and back occurred later the same day, with a transmission of the American flag waving in front of the Earth Station in Andover, Maine.

The first public images beamed from New York to the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall on July 23 should have been of President John F Kennedy, but because of a delay in the United States viewers were first treated to footage of a baseball game which was being shown on US television.

0Comments