Glasgow & West Scotland

Television pictures from across the Atlantic 'had huge impact'

Telstar's launch on 10 July 1962
Image caption The Telstar satellite was launched in July 1962

The grandson of the Scottish television pioneer John Logie Baird has said British culture was changed by the first satellite images.

Fifty years ago on Monday, public satellite television images were beamed across the Atlantic from the United States to Britain and Europe.

Iain Logie Baird said the event changed people's perception of distance and the world.

Mr Logie Baird works at the National Media Museum in Bradford.

He said: "It wasn't actually the first satellite broadcast but because it was seen by so many people when it was on, it had a tremendous impact on people's perception of distance and extension of their consciousness."

Image caption Iain Logie Baird works at the National Media Museum in Bradford

"Suddenly you could see across the ocean as easily as you could make a phone call."

The Telstar satellite, which belonged to telecommunications giant AT&T, was launched by Nasa on 10 July 1962.

Prior to Telstar, Mr Baird said, people had to record on to tapes, which would then be flown to the destination country, meaning there could be a delay of hours if not days before they were broadcast.

Earth Station

The first television picture relayed from earth to space and back occurred later the same day, with a transmission of the American flag waving in front of the Earth Station in Andover, Maine.

An AT&T spokesman said the idea of an active satellite, which does not simply reflect signals but amplifies and retransmits them, was conceived by science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke in 1945.

Ten years later John Pierce, of Bell Telephone Laboratories, published a scientific paper outlining the possibilities for satellite communications.

In January 1960, AT&T and Nasa agreed to a joint project.

AT&T would design and construct an experimental satellite and pay Nasa to launch it in what would be the first privately sponsored space launch.

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