39 Years Ago in Time

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With cable news, cell phones and the Web, we take instant global communications for granted. But in 1965, the launch of Early Bird, an 85-lb. SATELLITE, was a seminal event for the world and for TIME.

In an age fast growing familiar with man's race beyond the confines of his own world, Early Bird reached back toward the earth and seemed to shrink it almost to room size. All by itself, the satellite blanketed more than one-third of the globe ... In Europe and the U.S., television's showmen labored to exploit Early Bird's versatility. At their best, the programs were as moving and immediate as Houston's great surgeon Michael DeBakey repairing a human heart while fascinated doctors in Geneva looked over his shoulder. Europe watched troop movements in Santo Domingo while bullets still ricocheted across the Caribbean town ... And between the best and the worst that TV had to offer, imaginative men could pick out the promise of a dream born more than a century ago, when the first crude telegraph suggested that man might some day far outreach the limitations of his speech and hearing.

--TIME, May 14, 1965