…Launched in 1962 Telstar was the first active communications satellite , and the first satellite designed to transmit telephone and high-speed data communications. It was also the title of the first single I ever bought, by a band called the Tornados. Born during the reign of George VI, in 1962 I had acne and far too much testosterone. A child of modernism about to discover the Beatles and living in a world that was always shocking with the new, I’d never had it so good. In a way Telstar is the icon of my obsession with information technology. For the first time in history it was posssible to watch a live broadcast from America on TV in Wales. When I was born we had no TV or phone, never mind a mobile or a laptop. Communication was a stamp on a letter or postcard or the one way traffic of the newspaper. My grandfather worked for George Thomas, who became Speaker of the House of Commons, so we read “The Times” in the days when the front page was advertisments only. For those days we were extremely well informed. BBC tv was decently and discreetly contained in a walnut Dynatron cabinet, hidden from view when the vicar came to tea, or when George came round to pat my head during elections. Telstar changed that world for ever. Now such satellites are ubiquitous. Dehra Dun and Dhaka are a mouseclick away. How did we get from there to here? My own journey was a wayward one, falling in and out of love with technology like having a tempestuous lover. Time had an arrow in 1962. The bossa nova and the sophisticated world of James Bond were the dream we aspired to. The Beatles were to change all that and the blues was morphing into rock and changing the planet. The nightmare of Vietnam was looming over the horizon and Kennedy was still President. Telstar was the watershed of my life although I was only vaguely aware of it at the time. We were about to enter the age of the global village.

About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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