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The Trouble with Telstar   By: (1919-1988)

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The Trouble with Telstar by John Berryman is a thought-provoking and masterfully written memoir that explores the complex relationship between technology and society. Through a blend of personal anecdotes and in-depth research, Berryman delivers a compelling analysis of the impact of the Telstar satellite on the world during the 1960s.

One of the standout aspects of this book is the author's ability to seamlessly weave together historical context, scientific explanations, and personal experiences. Berryman effectively captures the excitement and optimism that accompanied the launch of Telstar, which was the first communication satellite in history. However, he also delves into the unforeseen consequences and challenges that arose along with this groundbreaking technology.

Berryman's writing style is captivating, engaging readers with vivid descriptions and evocative language. By sharing his own memories and reflections, he effectively humanizes the topic and allows readers to connect on a more personal level. His attention to detail is impressive, painting a rich picture of the era and providing a comprehensive understanding of the cultural climate surrounding Telstar's launch.

Furthermore, The Trouble with Telstar presents a well-balanced analysis of the advantages and drawbacks of this revolutionary technology. Berryman navigates the complexities and ethics of transmitting live television broadcasts globally, highlighting the clash between the desire for progress and the potential risks associated with it. His exploration of the power dynamics at play within the telecommunications industry adds further depth to the narrative.

While the book primarily focuses on Telstar's impact, Berryman also touches on broader societal issues, such as the escalating Cold War tensions and the implications of global communication. These broader themes elevate the book beyond a mere technological analysis and contribute to its overall relevance and significance.

Despite its strengths, The Trouble with Telstar may occasionally feel dense to readers without a strong interest in technology or history. At times, the technical explanations can be overwhelming, and some sections may require additional concentration to fully grasp. However, diligent readers will find these sections rewarding, as they provide a deeper understanding of Telstar's capabilities and limitations.

In conclusion, The Trouble with Telstar is a meticulously researched and captivating memoir that examines the profound impact of the Telstar satellite on society. John Berryman compels readers to contemplate the complex relationship between technology, communication, and human nature. Whether one is intrigued by technological advancements or fascinated by the sociopolitical climate of the 1960s, this book offers a wealth of information and thought-provoking insights.

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from Analog Science Fact & Fiction June 1963. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


The real trouble with communications satellites is the enormous difficulty of repairing even the simplest little trouble. You need such a loooong screwdriver.



Doc Stone made sure I wouldn't give him the "too busy" routine. He sent Millie to get me.

"Okay, Millie," I said to Stone's secretary. "I'll be right with you." I cleared the restricted notes and plans from my desk and locked them in the file cabinet, per regulations, and walked beside Millie to Stone's office.

"It's a reflex mechanism, Mike," Dr. Stone said as Millie showed me in. "Every type knows how to fight for survival." He took one thoughtful puff on his pipe. "The old fud," he added.

"The solenoid again, Doc?" I asked.

"What else, Mike?" he said, raising his pale eyebrows. "It's Paul Cleary's baby, and after all these years with the company, he doesn't figure to go down without a fight... Continue reading book >>

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