On July 10, 1962, AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories (now Nokia Bell Labs) and NASA launched Telstar 1, the first communications satellite sent into space. This was the first time television transmissions of live events and phone conversations could be relayed between the US and Europe in real time. While we take this for granted now, Telstar ushered in global communications as we know it today.
Mounting Telstar Satellite to the Thor-Delta rocket 1962 (Source: Nokia Bell Labs and AT&T Archives)
For years, the biggest TV broadcast has been the World Cup of soccer (or football for those outside of North America). From the first World Cup in 1930 until the one in 1970, the World Cup was not broadcast globally. Telstar, and the communication satellites that came after it, brought these soccer games to the fans around the world. While the first soccer balls were originally made of brown leather, a new design was necessary to make soccer balls stand out on the predominantly black and white TV screens of the time. This black-and-white patterned truncated icosahedron design kicked into play at the World Cup of 1970. The ball’s eye-catching design was dubbed the Telstar because it resembled the Telstar satellite and this design has since become the global standard for soccer balls. This year, an updated design called Telstar 18 was used until the semi-finals at the World Cup in Russia.
Watch the feature story by Fox Sports that was aired during the World Cup finals on July 15th:
Nokia Bell Labs continues to deliver disruptive innovations that have and will continue to change human existence. We’ve gone from launching the first active satellite into space and now Nokia Bell Labs is set to play a key role in rolling out the first-ever lunar 4G network with Vodafone via a pioneering privately-funded Mission to the Moon.
Check back next week to learn about our other space innovations including the discovery of cosmic background radiation that gave evidence for the Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe.