45th Anniversary of First Transatlantic Satellite TV Transmission

July 27, 2007
Monday marked the 45th anniversary of the first transatlantic TV transmission via satellite. The event occurred on July 23, 1962.

The event marked the first high-quality video transmissions between Europe and the United States. On the same date, telephone calls, faxes and data were also transmitted using the new satellite.

Consider how far technology has come in 45 years.

Telstar 1 required huge earth stations, which tracked the satellite's elliptical orbit in order to obtain 20 minutes of transatlantic connectivity in each pass. Today a teenager in London can snap a picture on her cell phone and e-mail it to a friend in the United States anytime day or night. With the right hardware, she can send video. By sending the video to YouTube, anyone in the world could see it. Instead of the signal traveling by satellite across the ocean, it goes to the nearest cell phone tower and, depending on the location of the tower, by microwave to a location where its connected to data circuits using fiber cable, copper and perhaps another microwave relay to move the data across the Internet to the viewer.

The change in broadcasting from analog to digital may seem huge, but it pales in comparison to the changes that have occurred in the past 45 years in moving content and data between continents.

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