1962 – Seemed Like A Pivotal Year For Technology

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Back in the 1960’s – it seemed anything was possible – with terms such as “space age,” “solid state” and “exciting world of tomorrow” (and variations). Every year has its tech rollouts – but, one year that really stands out is 1962. Looking back – it was an amazing year for telephones, computers and – communications. In another update – I’ll list the whole year in technology – but, with this update, I’d like to point out, specifically – why 1962 was so tech special:

  • The biggest of them all – Telstar was launched. It was the first time we could communicate by way of satellite. At first, data and audio could only be sent, but rather quickly – engineers managed a television broadcast between here and across the Atlantic Ocean. Telstar was not in a geo-synchro orbit – so – dishes had to keep tracking the bird – and – you had about 20 minutes of signal time – per orbit. But, it was the future and the future was here. President Kennedy did a press conference transmitted by Telstar seen in Europe. The first Telstar didn’t last long, as radiation eventually took out some transistors and the satellite fizzled – declared dead before the end of 1962. Telstar 2 was launched and then eventually – geosynchronous satellites were launched (thus staying in one place).
  • AT&T and Bell Telephone were busy that year. At the April Seattle World’s Fair – call waiting and call forwarding were demonstrated at the Bell Pavilion. And, touch tone phones were demonstrated.
  • Featured at a prominent Seattle restaurant – cordless phones. It was the first time wireless (or radio) was associated with the average consumer telephone. It had to do with providing phone service to customer tables – at the revolving (spinning) Space Needle restaurant. No telephone wires to the tables – so Bell telephone provided cordless phones. They were the same size as regular phones – nothing out of the ordinary.
  • For businesses – computer punch cards and readers became desk accessible so your secretary could now – pick up her phone, dial a number – and, send data via a small punch card reader. Pick up the phone, dial a number (listen for the computer tones – and – hit the button to send your punch card data.
  • Bell telephone debuted the first device made possible by transistor technology – the Bellboy (re-named pager). You carried the device (about 8 inches) and when it toned, you called back by way of the nearest phone (phone booths were great for this).
  • Color-TV – NBC transmitted all of its prime-time programming in color for one week. This was to get you to the color-TV dealer and see your ordinary black and white programs – now in color – and hopefully, you’d purchase an RCA color TV set.

Author

Gary West

Historian Gary West built his first website in 1998 with www.pophistorynow.com. That addressed now forwards to www.mrpopculture.com - an amazing pop culture/news database with 25,000 pages, covering the years 1955-2014. He's also the author of www.technologynewstimeline.com - covering consumer technology from 1952 to the present. West has been a contributor to numerous books, radio-TV shows, CNN & USA Today & the History Channel.

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3 Comments

  1. Don Milne - Roadtrip62 June 10, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I can hardly wait for your full year list! Thanks for this telecom teaser; I had no idea that the original Telstar didn’t even last a full year.
    – Don

  2. Eli Etherton June 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

    It’s amazing to realize how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. I still remember my uncle being so proud when he bought a brand new Atari 2600 for $500 back in the early 80’s (which would be around $1500 now)

  3. Robert June 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Great post Gary, I found new and interesting stuff reading it.

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