Bring Telstar Back To NYC

Next month the New York Historical Society is launching Silicon City, a historical retrospective about NYC’s contribution to the electronic/digital era. I’m super excited to see the show and have been involved a bit on the research effort that the society has been doing on it.

As part of this exhibition, they want to bring Telstar, the first commercial satellite, back to NYC where it was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair.

So as part of the Silicon City effort, the New York Historical Society has launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring Telstar back to NYC. The cost to do it is roughly $10,000 and that’s what they are raising in this project. There are all sorts of fun rewards including admission to the exhibition or an invitation to attend the VIP opening party.

Here’s the project video.

I hope all you New Yorkers out there join me in backing this project and attending the show when it launches next month.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    Where is Telstar? At that price not in orbit, but where?

    1. leapy

      “Then it will be transported by Marshall Fine Arts from its current home in the offices of the Telesat Corporation in Bedminster, New Jersey.”…

      1. jason wright

        i checked out the Society video only, the bad boy that i am. so is this a replica? is the original still up there?

        1. leapy

          I am a little hazy on that point, too.According to the text, the satellite broadcast from “space” in July 1962 but was exhibited in 1964. It is this exhibited Telstar that is being retrieved (all the way from New Jersey!) but I have no idea if this is one and the same as that which was in orbit.”The satellite was shown at the 1964 World’s Fair. But for the last half a century, it has been missing from New York.”There’s also a reference to the fact that conservation activity is already underway.This whole thing smacks of hype for the exhibition. Hope that’s not true.

          1. jason wright

            so the one coming to this exhibition is one of the four never launched? now it all makes sense. thanks.

  2. Martin De Saulles

    I presume this is a prototype or model as I don’t see how it could be the actual one that went into orbit – can satellites be recovered and brought back to earth?

  3. awaldstein

    Question Fred.NY is about it’s heroes, the people.When we think of the Chrysler Building we think of Margaret-Bourke White sitting on the Gargoyle taking pictures.Same with artists, musicians, and the like.Can’t put a single name to the tech piece of the puzzle and wondering if the exhibition will correct this?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Some of us think of William Van Alen, the man who designed it.

      1. awaldstein

        Maybe i will after the exhibit but to me tech heroes are still to far below the radar in NY.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Van Alen designed the Chrysler Building. Loved building, but unloved architect, for some reason.

          1. Druce

            Had a falling out with the developer, accused of wrongdoing, hardly worked again –… (also a book) Not really clear if there was substance, but controversy, Depression didn’t help.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            He sued, claiming he was underpaid, and got blackballed. Still deserves to be remembered for designing the best looking building in New York. Instead more gets written about the architects of boring rectangles.

      2. jason wright

        yes, that name rings a bell.

    2. leapy

      Grace Hopper was born in New York. Credited with inventing the term “debugging” software.Can’t get much more fundamental to tech than her 🙂

      1. awaldstein

        new2me.if i was designing this exhibit i would focus on connecting the people to the tech.this is a city that loves our artists from Keith Haring to Lou Reed. That loves our restauranteurs and somms. That loves our architects and poets.Heroes across different sectors.I would very much focus on the heroes of tech that built these wonders. And btw more than a few are women doing incredible things in a very different time.

      2. Girish Mehta

        A moth got stuck in the relay. Popularized the term “bug” and “debugging”. The remains of the moth are in the log book at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

        1. jason wright

          good one

    3. Girish Mehta

      Among the ones I like by Margaret Bourke-White. Hats in the Garment District, 1930.

      1. awaldstein

        I have this one hanging on the wall in my entrance way to my apartment.Reminds me of my grandfather.Love this pic. Love Bourke-White.

      2. jason wright

        i wonder what became of them all?i assume the tech of the future would be able to answer such a question.

        1. awaldstein

          how is that?

          1. jason wright

            the people in the photo, i wonder what became of them all? it’s an abstract question for an abstract photo, but under each hat is a life.

    4. fredwilson

      IBM, Bell Labs, EdisonI could go on and onGo see the show when it comes out

      1. awaldstein

        i most certainly will.looking forward to educating myself.

      2. LE

        Manhattan project started in the Manhattan engineering district.They include warehouses that held uranium, laboratories that split the atom, and the project’s first headquarters — a skyscraper hidden in plain sight right across from City Hall.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Right, the Manhattan Project. In my post to this thread today, I totally blew it — omitted the Manhattan Project.So, as in…early in 1939, at Columbia University, L. Szilard sent some neutrons into natural uranium and got out significantly more neutrons than he sent in, thus, suggesting that a chain reaction might be possible.But, of course, that’s not really computing or information technology.

      3. realposter

        A little unrelated – but didn’t aerospace engineering incubate in NYC before moving out to Long Island (and then California of course)?

    5. LE

      I hear your point. But I think that linking accomplishments to people inevitably ends up ignoring the others that surrounded those people that actually made things happen or shared a significant role in the success. People you never hear about. To much, in my mind, focus on legends as the practically the sole reason for something happening.(I would put Robert Moses on your heroes list btw..)

      1. awaldstein

        I disagree on this one.It is only when you humanize does it talk hold for me.And Robert Moses–my least favorite city planner and a hot button for me of sorts.He chose roads over public trans. impersonal public spaces. Expedience first.The antithesis of the modern intimate city. Every time I walk through the lower west village and see where he mowed down part of the village to put up residences i cringe. He would have leveled soho if he could have.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Yeah, my first thought was, “The guy who tore down the old Penn Station and gave us the projects?” The opposite of hero in my book.

          1. LE

            Well it makes a tough man to make a tender chicken as they say. He got things done. Perhaps you have you have a certainly personality and ability to stretch the truth in order to do that, in a city like NY.Neither you (nor Arnold) is able to know what NYC would be w/o the good things that Moses did do. Would it be the city that you love today (without the bridge and tunnel crowd?). Would it have grown the way that it did? So he didn’t bat 100% and maybe even was a bit racist (from what I have read). He operated in a different place and time. Don’t hold him to 21st century standards.As far as “the projects” what are the solutions to public housing in an area where space is a premium other than what was done?From what I can tell (and I am not an expert on Moses let’s be clear) he did what he thought the future would require back in a time period that was very different than it is today.As far as Penn Station I was not able to find anything on that other than this:The opposition reached a climax over the demolition of Pennsylvania Station, which many attributed to the “development scheme” mentality cultivated by Moses[19] even though it was the impoverished Pennsylvania Railroad that was actually responsible for the demolitio…

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            “He operated in a different place and time. Don’t hold him to 21st century standards.”The people of the time had a problem with him, too: see Jane Jacobs.You should watch the Burns “New York” documentary series 🙂

          3. LE

            I did watch Ken Burns documentary (although quite honestly it was some time ago and I don’t remember it that well).

          4. awaldstein

            you choose him as a hero LE.why?certainly not because he got things done. a horrible criteria when the results were so wrong.

          5. LE

            Moses isn’t a hero of mine. I don’t live in NYC and I never lived in NYC. I don’t know what you know about NYC. My impression from what I have read (and watched) about Moses is that he did many great things. Enough to have a few things named after him. I recognize that there are negatives attached to him. Like the guy who decided to put i95 in Philly and cut off the waterfront (instead of sinking that portion of the road, big mistake).That said consider this. What is good for you and what you want from NYC is not the same as the bridge and tunnel crowd. For example if I had to commute into NYC from Long Island or Westchester or Staten Island well then quite frankly I could care less if the road that I take runs through the part of NYC that you think shouldn’t have a highway running through it. I only care about getting into the city and getting out. As quick as possible. You lived in LA and drove everywhere. When living there did you ever stop to think about anyone displaced by the roads that you took? My guess is that you did not. You wanted (haha in LA) to not spend a great deal of time in the car.That private school that I went to had their campus cut by a major road that was built in Bucks County PA (Rt 413). It would have been much better to not have a road cutting through the campus. But the road was built (along with a arch bridge over the road) which allowed students to continue to walk to the quaint town (Newtown PA) and not cross the road. In the end it wasn’t as nice but it was still nice enough. Then housing developments were built all around the school on farmland. Would have been much better for the school if that hadn’t happened. (At the time of the land proposals they thought they would have to build a fence to keep people out).That said I will absolutely defer to you on Moses. All I was commenting on was based on what I knew about him!

          6. awaldstein

            Public transportation. Open shared spaces. Intimacy and uniqueness cross neighborhoods is good for everyone.That’s not arguable.

          7. realposter

            Moses did good as it related to building public parks – no question. Also – yes the roads were needed – but NOT the way he did it. He built a road that helped sign a death warrant to the southern half of The Bronx. That was no simple thing. At that time – the Bronx actually had overall the highest standard of living of any borough (most modern housing). By the time Moses cut the borough in half – it became the lowest standard overall. It wasn’t the only thing – but it was the most significant. So yes – he built the wonderful Pelham Bay Park – but his expressway caused more harm than the park caused good in that borough. That was just the most grievous one – but not the only. Oh and people from Westchester and Long Island are better off using the suburban commuter trains than driving. Car traffic in a dense urban area is a detriment – not really a plus.

      2. Girish Mehta

        It could be people + companies +places – all of them work together…but the individuals do add richness and memorability to the story.Silicon Valley history for instance – when you think Fairchild Semiconductor – you also think “Traitorous Eight” and their dynamic with Shockley and their leaving. You think HP, but you also think two guys and a Garage.So I did think it was interesting when I saw Arnold’s question at the top was specifically about people, and the first two names in Fred’s response were (large) companies, not individuals…

        1. LE

          do add richness and memorability to the storyAgree with that totally “richness and memorability” (but to my point) not always a fair and balanced representation of history when heroes are focused on.

    6. realposter

      Didn’t Bell Labs also originate in NYC before moving to Jersey? Who was involved in it?

  4. sigmaalgebra

    Hmm, …. How about also IBM, Teleport, Bloomberg, Renaissance Technologies, …?

  5. Dave Pinsen

    I can’t see the name Telstar without thinking of this.

    1. David Barnes

      And I had to think of…My son finds it bizarre that we had a man on the moon before we could watch Penguins of Madagascar on demand. I explained that Jeff Bezos funded the recovery of Apollo 11 and he couldn’t believe the moon landing predated Amazon.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I love it 🙂

  6. Richard Lee

    I remember you had a post about naming NYC’s tech community…i’m assuming nothing stuck…wish this wasn’t called silicon city. either way, it’s got my support.

  7. William Mougayar

    I just read the Telstar history, and it was fascinating to learn about it. Good luck with this project, and I’ll make sure to visit it on my next NYC trip.

  8. LE

    I really liked the video it was very well made. Especially because it wasn’t done in the style of other kickstarter videos that I have seen (young hipster voiceover and music genre). I plan to give to this project. I think history exhibits are really cool and especially ones around tech, engineering or building.

  9. BillMcNeely

    The T-Shirt itself is worth the contribution. My goal over the next 12 months is to contribute to every project that Fred suggests here at AVC.