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July 12th, 1962: the day two continents smiled at each other

Sharif Sakr
07.12.12
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We'd probably all agree the Internet is the real revolution of the modern era, but today marks an older, parallel milestone that also brims with significance. On July 10th, 1962 -- back when JFK fretted over Russian missiles in Cuba and Bob Dylan sang In My Time of Dying -- NASA pelted the Telstar 1 satellite out into orbit, following a team effort by AT&T, Bell Labs and the British and French post offices. Two days later, the world's first transatlantic TV signal made its way from Maine to Brittany, via a quick stop-over in the heavens, and a new age of international communication was born. Kennedy forgot his troubles for a moment to tidy his hair and grin at France, who replied with a chirpy performance by Yves Montand. It didn't last long: Telstar 1 gave up its spherical ghost after just a few months and 400 transmissions, but by then, of course, the message had been delivered.

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