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On December 18th 1958, the first communications satellite was launched by NASA. It carried a tape recorder with a prerecorded christmas message from US-president Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The message was transmitted on December 19th via short wave radio to many parts of the world and became famous as the first audio message to be relayed from space.
A radio report about this event is archived in the collections of the Österreichische Mediathek and is now also available via Europeana Sounds.

 

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Collection USIS at the Österreichische Mediathek, Österreichische Mediathek, Kronsteiner – CC-BY-NC

The Österreichische Mediathek cares for this collection of over 4000 tape recordings with radio programmes which were originally commissioned by the United States Information Service to be broadcast in Austria in the 1950s and 1960s.

The collection USIS is owned by the Vienna City Library and is now being safeguarded and digitised by the Mediathek. Over 700 of these recordings are currently available online and part of Europeana Sounds.
In 2016, the collection was also added to „Memory of Austria“, Austria national Memory of the World Register of the UNESCO.

You can find more information on the collection (in german) here.

The Radio news about Eisenhower’s speech from outer space were aired in Austria three days after the original broadcast, again transmitted to Europe via short wave radio. The recording of president Eisenhower in the news report is of rather poor sound quality.

Listen to the extract: Austrian Radio Report with the Christmas Message of President Eisenhower, 22nd of December 1958.

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The launch of the Atlas-B missile which contained two tape recorders with the Christmas Message of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, December 18th 1958 – NASA via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain Marked.

 

Eisenhower’s words: « This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you via a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere. »
A recording of the originally aired speech is preserved by the Library of Congress as part of the National Recording Registry.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all from the team of the Österreichische Mediathek!

by Johannes Kapeller (Österreichische Mediathek)