25 Jun All you need is love for technology
Everyone can agree that ‘All you need is love’ was a gift to the world – especially since it was literally composed for Our World…
… at least that is what Ringo Starr said.
First things first. What’s ‘Our World’? It’s the name of the first live, international, satellite television production, broadcasted on June 25th, 1967. The concept was to link up the world, to state that we are all, as brothers and sisters, a part of Our World.
It lasted 2,5 hours and was seen by 400 million people around the globe. Let me share some statistics with you: according to estimates made by UNESCO there were 100 million television sets worldwide in 1960. That would give us 4 people per television set in 100 million households on that day. Although, considering how fast the usage was growing back then, it’s estimated that the number of tv receivers in use must have tripled by 1967. Even so, the amount of viewers was 5 times the number of people in Germany, 10 times the number of people in Poland and it has outgrown any FIFA World Cup ratings 12 times over.
Before you watch ‘Our World’, and I’m convinced you will at least take a peek, let me tell you a few things about the content. It started and ended with a song. The opening song was the Our World theme, sung in 22 languages. The closing one was ‘All you need is love’, written especially for the broadcast. Besides the Beatles, many other great artists were invited to appear, such as Maria Callas or Pablo Picasso. They represented nineteen nations, performing in separate segments. What’s worth mentioning is that two ground rules were set. One, that everything had to be live and two, that no politicians or heads of state could participate in the broadcast. That is why, when the show switched to the conference between the American president and the Soviet premier, only the house in which it was held was shown. ‘Our World’ also featured a rancher in Canada, babies being born, sport events, a subway construction project in Tokyo (Japan) and a tram station in Melbourne, Australia. That was tricky – to switch from Japan to Australia. Both Japanese and Australian satellite ground stations had to reverse their actions: Tokyo went from transmit mode to receive mode while Melbourne switched from receive to transmit mode.
The project was designed by a BBC producer, Aubrey Singer. And so the master control room for the broadcast was at the BBC in London, even though the project itself was transferred to the European Broadcasting Union (you may, unfortunately, know it as Eurovision) with headquarters in Switzerland.
It took nearly a year to bring everything together. The satellites used were: ‘Early Bird’ – Intelsat I, ‘Lani Bird’ – Intelsat 2-2, ‘Canary Bird’ Intelsat 2-3 and one of NASA’s satellites, known by the technical and entirely uninspired name, ATS-1. Four days before the broadcast five of the participating countries dropped out as a protest to the West’s response to the ‘Six Day War’. Nevertheless the show went on, because, as we all now, it always must.
Ten thousand technicians, producers and interpreters took part in the broadcast. Each country had its own announcers who had to voice-over the original sound, if it wasn’t in the country’s native language. And it must have happened a lot, since 14 countries participated in the production transmitted to 31 countries.
You can probably list a lot of things that have happened on June 25th throughout the years. Like the US Congress passing the Mann Act, Anne Frank’s Diary being published, Mozambique achieving independence or that it is the National Catfish Day for the citizens of the United States. So, I’m sure it won’t inconvenience you to remember one more thing: June 25th is the anniversary of the ‘Our World’ broadcast. And make sure it makes your top ten events of that day. At the very least, it deserves to score higher than Catfish Day.