Profile America: Telstar


Tuesday, July 11 — The distant reaches of planet Earth came into electronic proximity for the average American on this date in 1962. The occasion was the successful relay of a transatlantic TV signal by Telstar, the first privately owned satellite launched the day before. While a major communications advance and a sensation of the day, Telstar did not last long. It failed in December, was restored briefly, and then went dead in February 1963.

Today, dozens of communications satellites allow television signals, telephone calls and computer hookups to all points of the Earth. Across the United States, there are some 8,300 people employed in some 540 firms providing satellite telecommunication services. The value of satellite telecommunications is over $6.8 billion annually.

Profile America is in its 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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