November 1960 Electronics World
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
Electronics World, published May 1959
- December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Echo 1 launched in August
of 1960, finally allowing America to participate in the Space Race, which until
then was roundly being won by the USSR. Electronics magazines of the day were filled
with prognostications of the future of space communications. Electronics World dedicated
most of their November issue to satellite Earth stations and advancements being
made in ultra sensitive receivers and powerful transmitters. Since the earliest
satellites were literally metallic balls for reflecting radio signals, it was necessary
to optimize both ends of the communications path since there were no circuits onboard
the satellite to perform signal processing and re-transmission. Bell Labs, of course,
was at the forefront of the technology. In fact a famously serendipitous discovery
was made by a couple scientists in 1964 using the very antenna featured in this
Articles here on RF Cafe which mention the Dr. Robert W. Wilson and Dr. Arno
Penzias are The
Maser & Sugar Scoop Antenna: Receiver for Signals from Space,
Bell Telephone Laboratories Project Echo,
The Amazing Maser: The Jewel That Conquers Space,
Cosmic Radio Signals from Sun and Stars, and
Bell Telephone Laboratories Project Echo
"Project Echo" satellite went into a near-perfect circular orbit
1000 miles high, circling the earth once every two hours. Its orbital path covered
all parts of the U. S.
First Phone Call Via Man-Made Satellite!
Bell Telephone Laboratories Bounces Voice Off Sphere Placed in Orbit a Thousand
Miles Above the Earth
Think of watching a royal wedding in Europe by live TV, or telephoning to Singapore
or Calcutta - by way of outer-space satellites! A mere dream a few years ago, this
idea is now a giant step closer to reality.
Bell Telephone Laboratories recently took the step by successfully bouncing a
phone call between its Holmdel, N. J., test site and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Goldstone, California.
The reflector was a 100-foot sphere of aluminized plastic orbiting the earth 1000
Dramatic application of telephone science Sponsored by NASA, this dramatic experiment
- known as "Project Echo" - relied heavily on telephone science for its fulfillment...
The Delta rocket which carried the satellite into space was steered into a precise
orbit by the Bell Laboratories Command Guidance System. This is the same system
which recently guided the remarkable Tiros I weather satellite into its near-perfect
To pick up the signals, a special horn-reflector antenna was used. Previously
perfected by Bell Laboratories for microwave radio relay, it is virtually immune
to common radio "noise" interference. The amplifier - also a Laboratories development
- was a traveling wave "maser" with very low noise susceptibility. The signals were
still further protected from noise by a special FM receiving technique invented
at Bell Laboratories.
"Project Echo" foreshadows the day when numerous man-made satellites might be
in orbit all around the earth, acting as 24-hour-a-day relay stations for TV programs
and phone calls between all nations.
This experiment shows how Bell Laboratories, as part of the Bell System, is working
to advance space communication. Just as we pioneered in worldwide telephone service
by radio and cable, so we are pioneering now in using outer space to improve communications
on earth. It's part of our job, and we are a long way toward the goal.
Giant ultra-sensitive horn-reflector antenna which received signals bounced off
the satellite. It is located at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Holmdel, New Jersey.
Bell Telephone Laboratories World Center of Communications Research and Development
Posted April 2, 2020(original