Air France in the satellite age

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Summer 1962, 55 years ago, Air France provided its modest but historic contribution to the development of a technological means that is now essential in terms of international communications.

International telephone communications remained difficult, with underwater cables having limited capacity. Five years after Sputnik and its legendary “beep beep”, satellite technology had made great progress.

The Americans had designed various models capable of relaying communications from space. One of them, Telstar 1, was to change the course of technological history. Placed in orbit on 10 July, it was put to contribution the same evening to retransmit television programmes between the United States and Europe. A world first!
A few days later, it was put to work for... Air France, to book a ticket between France and the United States by phone.

On 8 August, at 8:02 pm (Paris time), communication was established via Telstar 1 between Colette Bouffard, Air France sales agent in Paris, and Edda Dreom, Air France sales agent at Ildewild airport in New York. A 6-minute conversation, considered "effective", "friendly", and "of great technical quality", which media all over the world then relayed.

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