Fifty years ago today the bip bip bip sound of a man made satellite in orbit around the Earth was heard for the first time. Sputnik orbitted the earth in 98 minutes and weighed 185 pounds. It stayed in orbit for 3 months and caused humiliation to the Americans which was further exacerbated when their first attempt at space flight exploded on launch in December later that year.

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(Photo courtesy of Astronomy Picture of the Day)

It was the start of the Space Race and shocked America into creating NASA and ultimately the fledgling Internet. The Advanced Projects Defence Agency whose mission was to ‘prevent technichal surprises’ was a further product of the space race. One of their project was ARPANET which was the first packet switching network and the fore runner to the Internet. So who would have thought a basketball sized lump of metal could have been the trigger to the whole web phenomenon.

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