This Is What Broadband Satellite Communication Looked Like in 1965

Intelsat 1, the first commercial telecom satellite, could relay 240 phone calls at once

1 min read
Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty Images
Photo: Underwood Archives/Getty Images

The Intelsat 1 “Early Bird” communications satellite, built by Hughes Aircraft Co., was able to relay 240 simultaneous phone conversations between Europe and North America. But having all 240 lines apparently originate in one room in Los Angeles, as this Hughes publicity shot seems to suggest, would undoubtedly have created a slight bottleneck.

Intelsat 1 was the world’s first commercial communications satellite. Launched in 1965, it was placed into geosynchronous orbit above the Atlantic Ocean, where it remained operational for four years. In addition to carrying 240 voice transmissions, the satellite could relay telegrams, television signals, and whatever the 1965 equivalent of “high-speed data” was; however, it could do only one of those things at a time. Intelsat 1 was briefly reactivated in 1990 to celebrate its 25th anniversary. It’s still orbiting, inactive, presumably waiting for its 125th.

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How the Graphical User Interface Was Invented

Three decades of UI research came together in the mice, windows, and icons used today

18 min read
Stylized drawing of a desktop computer with mouse and keyboard, on the screen are windows, Icons, and menus
Getty Images/IEEE Spectrum

Mice, windows, icons, and menus: these are the ingredients of computer interfaces designed to be easy to grasp, simplicity itself to use, and straightforward to describe. The mouse is a pointer. Windows divide up the screen. Icons symbolize application programs and data. Menus list choices of action.

But the development of today’s graphical user interface was anything but simple. It took some 30 years of effort by engineers and computer scientists in universities, government laboratories, and corporate research groups, piggybacking on each other’s work, trying new ideas, repeating each other’s mistakes.

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