Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Telstar Telecommunications Satellite — PICTURES

July 12, 2012, 4 a.m.

In an era in which the Earth is en­circled by an ever-grown­ing num­ber of tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions and oth­er satel­lites, it might be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand the hoopla that en­sued when the first one was launched. 

That satel­lite, Tel­star, re­layed its first tele­vi­sion sig­nal 50 years ago on Thursday, two days after it was launched on Ju­ly 10, 1962. Tel­star was de­veloped by Bell Tele­phone Labor­at­or­ies for AT&T and launched by NASA, mak­ing it the first com­mer­cial space pay­load, ac­cord­ing to a NASA press re­lease.

The first broad­cast in­cluded im­ages of Pres­id­ent Kennedy and French sign­er Yves Mont­and, as well as im­ages of an Amer­ic­an flag and Mount Rush­more, among oth­ers. 

Be­low are im­ages of the satel­lite along with a Uni­ver­sal News­reel re­port and a (long) 1962 pro­mo­tion­al video from AT&T.

The satel­lite las­ted only a few months be­fore ra­di­ation dam­aged its elec­tron­ics, but it star­ted a re­volu­tion in glob­al com­mu­nic­a­tions.