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Satellite broadcasting begins

Publicity material for domestic satellite mini-dish

Domestic satellite dishes : the dish of the day

Eyesore or status symbol? Views differed when satellite dishes first appeared on homes, especially as the first generation of reflectors stood out in the white paint finish used then.

Today's mesh-dishes look more discreet in their black finish. They've also become smaller, thanks to improving technology. At the same time, installers have become more skilful in siting dishes in less conspicuous places.

To protect the environment from unnecessarily large dishes, government regulations require planning permission for dishes larger than 90cm across and limit the number of satellite aerials to one per house or garden.

Artisit's impression of Telstar in orbit above the Earth, 1962

The first generation of TV satellites (10.07.1962) : Telstar is launched

 It took five years from Sputnik - the first satellite - to the launch of the first television satellite, Telstar. Created by AT&T, the American Telephone and Telegraph company, Telstar was the first satellite to transmit television signals and telephone calls across the Atlantic.

Telstar (and other early satellites) did not follow a geostationary orbit. It needed steerable tracking aerials in Britain, France and the USA to follow Telstar through the sky and receive its signals. At first, Telstar could only beam back still pictures. But within two weeks of launch, on July 23 1962, it carried the first ever 'live by satellite' TV conversation between Europe and USA.

Telstar made headlines around the world - and inspired a pop instrumental (by The Tornadoes) that was the first to top the charts simultaneously in both Britain and the USA.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...