On July 10th 1962 Telstar the world`s first telecommunications satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral. Telstar which was built by the American Bell AT&T company and it allowed `live` pictures to be beamed around the world for the first time.
The first picture beamed from the UK to the USA was of a young couple sitting in a river bank, the image appeared in the Daily Mail on July 13th. The couple were the young actor Richard Thorp who would go on to play Alan Turner in Emmerdale and a young model called Chloe Brown.
The idea of using satellites to provide worldwide communications was suggested in an article written in 1945 by Arthur C Clarke.
Britain received transatlantic pictures from American at 01.01 on July 11th; the image was of Mr Frederick Kappel, president of AT&T. It was received in Britain at the Post Office run Goonhilly Down tracking station in Cornwall. Due to its low orbit, transmissions could only last for about 20 minutes while Telstar was above the horizon.
It had been agreed that the first real TV programme would be bounced of Telstar on July 22nd; however on July 12th the French broadcast a French cabaret singer singing songs. This broadcast was described in the UK press as being of a pirate nature and this caused a row. The French described the broadcast as a communications experiment.
In the early 1960s radios using valve technology were unreliable; many people therefore believed that there had to be people on board Telstar changing the valves regularly.
Telstar ceased to function on Feb 12th 1963 only 7 months after its launch, this was partly caused by Atomic bomb tests, a day before the launch of Telstar the Americans launched the Starfish Prime atomic bomb which exploded at a height of 400km and was the largest man made nuclear explosion in space. Telstar will orbit the Earth as a dead satellite for about another 100,000 years.
In October 1962 the instrumental pop group the Tornados made the hit record Telstar which reached number 1 in the UK and US record charts.