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Nightly News   |  July 10, 2012

Telstar, the satellite that spawned the communication age

It’s been 50 years since the launch of the world’s first commercial satellite. Not only did it change the way we get our news, it redefined the way we communicate with one another. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, this broadcast is brought to you by satellites. we're so used to them now, we've started saying via satellite, and those little word withes in the corner of the screen, we now just assume when something happens from cairo to cameroon to cleveland, ohio we will have live pictures of it instantly. but it's really only been that way for 50 years. in fact, it was 50 years ago this very day that the first satellite was launched. and it was called telstar and it changed everything. it weighed in at 170 pounds, was roughly the size a big beach ball , one those concert sized beach balls. there it is in the hands of scientists. it made an orbit of the earth approximately every two and a half hours. it sailed up there for years. it's still up there tonight, it's just not operating any more. the first pictures showed americans seens from europe, including right there, big ben . and then a london bobby talking with some folks in london. while it may look in this era of high definition television like a kind of grainy black and white oil painting, at the time, as you see on the front page of "the new york times" they bragged the pictures were were clear from france. president kennedy used telis a to broadcast to european viewers one of his news conferences. it really became the first space aged global brand. there was a song called " telstar " by a british rock group. as can you tell, telstar became the modern design for soccer balls we use today. it's the 12th generation telstar tonight circling the earth, and the very device that allows us to give you pictures like this, tahrir square live, cairo, coming to us from telstar 12 . that