This video is part of a series from New Jersey Arts News.

Fifty years ago, a satellite 34 inches in diameter and 170 pounds relayed the first television signals through space. Recently, hundreds of engineers who were part of the three-year Telstar project gathered at Bell Laboratories to celebrate the historic event.

"It was the beginning of modern communications," says Carol Maclennan, author and researcher for the Telstar project.

The satellite relayed TV and phone signals between the U.S. and Europe. The Telstar, designed and constructed at Bell Labs over a three-year period, orbited the Earth every two hours and 37 minutes. It was powered by 3,600 solar cells, and contained transistors and a microwave amplifier.

Maclennan and physicist Walter Brown, a member of the original Telstar team, were among the hundreds of scientists and engineers who gathered to celebrate the "Telstar 50th" anniversary at Bell Labs.  

Scientists Lou Lanzerotti, a professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Tod Sizer, Domain Leader at Bell Labs, recall the creative, cross-disciplinary culture that has fostered Bell Labs innovation over many decades.

"Having experts in all kinds of areas was phenomenal. You just met everybody," Lanzerotti said.

Other speakers at the 50th anniversary celebration included Tony Tyson, Professor of Physics at UC Davis, Susanne Arney, Head of Bell Labs North America, and Jeong Kim, President of Bell Labs.


New Jersey Arts News provides lively general-interest segments for newscasts that connect viewers and listeners to arts and humanities activity in New Jersey and beyond. Stories are produced by an independent, creative team and funded by tax-deductible donations and grants.