Getty Images, photo by NASA

There are many upon many satellites circling the globe these days but it was June 28, 1965 that the first commercial communications satellite went into operation. It was called Early Bird and was built for the Communications Satellite Corporation or COMSAT and was launched on April 6, 2965.

Once in place, 22,300 mile above Earth, it began to handle network traffic.  It was to provide line-of-site communications between North America and Europe but only worked when the solar panels were exposed to the sun (it didn’t have a battery).

In 1965, Early Bird could handle many types of network traffic but it could only handle up to 240 phone calls at a time or on T.V. station, today’s satellites are way better. Early Bird was designed to last only 18 months, but in the end it lasted almost 4 years.  By the 1980s, satellites improved quite a bit in in both efficiency and power plus the number of T.V stations and telephone’s  they could handle grew significantly.