August 20th is a record day in communications with two important messages being sent 66 years apart! The first message circumnavigated the globe but not by automobile, plane, train or ship, while the second skyrocketed into outer space via spacecraft.
This Day in History: August 20, 1911
Over a century ago, someone with the New York Times decided to find out how long it would take a regular commercial telegram, non-priority status, to circle the globe. An undertaking of a similar nature had already taken place in 1903 but under different circumstances. At that time, celebrations were in order as a result of the completion of the Commercial Pacific Cable. The message was sent by then President Franklin Roosevelt and traveled the globe in only 9 minutes having been given priority status. In 1911, the Times wanted to see how long a regular message would take -- and what route it would follow. Reading simply, “This message sent around the world”, it traveled over 28,000 miles and was relayed by 16 different operators.
At 7:00 p.m. on August 20, 1911, the Times telegraph operator on the seventeenth floor of the newspaper's offices in Times Square sent a telegram that stated simply: "This message sent around the world." Sixteen-and-a-half minutes later, the same telegraph operator received his message back. In the intervening minutes the telegram had traveled from New York westward, stopping in:
- San Francisco
- Midway Island
- Hong Kong
- Port Said
- The Azores
- and then back to Times Square.
The Times was particularly struck by the portion of the route sent by the Indian Government telegraph from Madras to Bombay. "This line," they wrote, "traverses the domains of the Nizam of Hyderabad, the most powerful Prince in India, from the Coromandel to the Malabar coast, crossing the Indian peninsula and passing through great forests inhabited by man-eating tigers, panthers, boa constrictors, and pythons, and singing its way past the lonely residence of the American missionary, whose only gleam of civilization is the buzzing on the telegraph wires near his bungalow."
Today, the building where the Times dispatched their record-setting message is called One Times Square and is best known for its news zipper and the dropping ball on New Year's Eve. The Times moved out in 1913 and eventually sold the building in 1961. (Source: Inside the Apple)
Telegrams are very nondescript, to the point, often with several abbreviated words. Comparing this to August 20, 1977 is like comparing apples to oranges. Technology, science, and inventions progressed at an accelerated rate from the onset of the 20th century, more so than any other. So, by the year 1977, interest was not on circling the globe for this feat had become commonplace.
This Day in History: August 20, 1977
|The "Golden Record" or "Sounds of Earth"|
Thanks to the Voyager program, NASA scientists gained a wealth of information about the outer planets, including close-up photographs of Saturn's seven rings; evidence of active geysers and volcanoes exploding on some of the four planets' 22 moons; winds of more than 1,500 mph on Neptune; and measurements of the magnetic fields on Uranus and Neptune. The two crafts are expected to continue sending data until 2020, or until their plutonium-based power sources run out. After that, they will continue to sail on through the galaxy for millions of years to come, barring some unexpected collision. (Source: History.com)
With 60 percent of the world’s population under 30, Voyager I and its twin Voyager II have been traveling their lonely routes to the edge of the solar system for longer than most people on Earth have been alive.
At the time, this venture made many wonder...what's next? That, too, has become history!