From Tiny Telstar, Big Beginnings in Communications

50 years ago, Bell Labs helped launch satellite to relay TV, phone signals between US and Europe

The beginning of modern communications happened 50 years ago when a little satellite called the Telstar 1 successfully launched. At just 34 inches in diameter and 170 pounds, Telstar relayed the first television signals through space, enabling TV programs to be broadcast across the Atlantic.

The Telstar, designed and constructed at Bell Labs over a three-year period, orbited the Earth every two hours and 37 minutes. Telstar innovators recently gathered at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill to celebrate the historic event, a moment captured in a story and video by WHYY NewsWorks, an NJ Spotlight partner.

In 50th anniversary of Telstar Satellite, scientists Walter Brown, Lou Lanzerotti, Carol Maclennan, and Tod Sizer, recount the excitement and cross-disciplinary culture of innovation at the New Jersey high-tech lab.