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This Week in Tech History: Phones on Airplanes and the First Live Broadcast from Space

Did you ever use those telephones that were available on airplanes, back in the 80s and 90s? In this episode of "This Week in Tech history," Chris is here to remind us of their introduction. He starts us off, though, with a few milestones from NASA and their Apollo program.

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This week in 1968 – The U.S. launched Apollo 7. Described by commander Walter Schirra as a “magnificent flying machine,” “Apollo 7” travelled some 4.5 million miles in orbit around the Earth to become the first manned flight in NASA’s lunar-landing program. The mission also featured the first live TV transmission from a spacecraft in orbit.

In 1984 this week – The Airfone service was launched on 20 flights for those who had credit cards. Of course, you paid for that convenience of talking on the phone while in the air. Costs for the service was $7.50 for a three-minute call, $1.25 for each additional minute anywhere you wanted to call in the US.

In 1994 – Netscape Communications Corporation announced that it was offering its new Netscape Navigator free to users via the Internet. The Internet browser was available for free downloading by “individual, academic and research users.”

And this week in 2001 – The Polaroid Corporation, long famous for their instant cameras, filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection.

Written by Chris Graveline

Chris has covered consumer technology for over 20 years. He is the host of This Week in Tech History as well as a regular co-host on "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline" and our Technical Director.

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