…from Goonhilly Downs… to the WURLD…

11th July, 1962… prob’ly not a date that gets instant recall in the minds of most people… I remember the occasion, but not the date itself… the first ever transatlantic satellite television signal between  the USA and Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall on the West Coast of England… black and white television of course, with gradings of grey in-between… the satellite was called Telstar, and among most of us back then its name was associated more with the instrumental recording by Hank Marvin and the Shadows  beat group, who were the backing combo for Cliff Richard...

…if mem’ry serves me correctly, the image on the signal was the representation of an Indian chief’s face, wearing his tribal feathered headdress… and how far we have come, Mabel… a mere 40 years later, I was engaged to go to Denver in America from the Philippines, where I was WURKING, to undertake the due diligence exercise for a potential buy-in to a company called EchoStar, arguably at the time the biggest satellite television network provider on the planet… part of that project had me chauffeur-driven from Denver in Colorado, on a five-hour journey into the desert to the massive base station where satellite channels from all over the world were received and re-transmitted on giant dishes…


…the enormous building housing the various screens to monitor these captured channels covered a huge wall… there must have been at least 5,000 various global channel screens on that control wall… all in colour… I was shown the backroom supporting the technological backup systems, and recall being amazed at the miles and miles of different-coloured cables, tidily herded into metal tracking, running up, over, and through walls… what a mind-boggling compression in such a short time from a single black and white satellite pulse in 1962, to the labyrinth of channel offerings I witnessed forty years on… and to think we used to be confused with merely two channels, trying to decide whether to watch BBC or ITV…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!



Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

12 responses to “…from Goonhilly Downs… to the WURLD…

  1. Small world. I negotiated an agreement with EchoStar to provide T1 service in out of region areas in the days before fiber.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And now we don’t even need all those cables. 🙂 … interesting times, indeed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. April Taylor

    We watched Apollo 13 again yesterday. When you think the computers used in those expeditions were a fraction of the power and capability of our mobile phones, you realise the true meaning of the word pioneer. And watching them use slide rules. My ex tried to teach me how to use one, the operative word being tried.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    More to cogitate about from that man…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marvelous. Growing up my parents used to get three channels from the larger city of Cleveland, Ohio. I was probably one of the few little girls who watched Friday Night Fights as my dad had boxed in the U.S. Navy and used to watch it. I joined him in front of the TV. 😀 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What an amazing experience, Seumas! We visited Goonhilly a few years ago when we were visiting Cornwall and that is also worth seeing. There is now a brilliant museum on the site which charts the progress of global communication on the site, but being able to stand by those enormous dishes still was the high spot for me…


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