We are coming up on the 40th anniversary of the 1st Apollo moon landing (July 20) in which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to touch down, kick some dirt around, bring back some things and generally kick off a whole generation of geeks (like me!).
Actually, we were already gearing up for things, from the famous President Kennedy speech, to (and I think more importantly) the support the teachers got in school for science and especially space related things. Everyone was interested in space exploration. There were books, cartoons, lots of stuff to keep this budding generation of geeks ready to go. Some of these early 3-4th grade readers I still have, having rescued them from my closet at my family home in Minnesota.
Of course, I was late in the generation. The engineers that were at NASA and other places like Lockheed and Boeing were earlier (older?) in the generation. But for all of us, it sheparded in a time of excitement and of hope.
I remember Walter Cronkite (who now is suffering from cerebrovascular disease and is not expected to recuperate) and his distinctive reporting style on the CBS broadcasting network as the launch, flight, landings and returns of the Apollo missions were carried out. I would sit up late into the night during those missions to watch and listen to everything the television (black and white, btw) could give me about each of those men that went on those journeys into space. I remember creating a table of all of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, who was on them, who actually flew, who did space walks, and how long, how many orbits, and for the Apollo's, what the objectives or landing sites on the moon were.
I even own an old style phonograph record of the audio highlights of this first Armstrong/Aldrin landing (Apollo 11) and I distinctly remember that the first reported words on the moon where not that "one small step" sentence, but something more pertinent to the mission. That bit of trivia I'll leave to the readers to ascertain, or if you cannot find it out, then drop me a note and I will help you out.
For other interested trivia (thanks to George Hrab- check out his #121 podcast episode) there were 10 other things, for example: The Apollo 11 flag was purchased from a Sears store local to the Manned Flight Center. At the time, Annin & Company was Sears supplier of nylon flags. From what I've read, it seems impossible to confirm this for sure at this time. In an interview in 1992 with NASA Chief of Technical Services, it's indicated that the flag may have been purchased through a government supply catalog, which also may have been locally procured. Nonetheless, an interesting sidelight to Sears history, which I wrote about over in my technology blog. Have a look.
There are probably more than 10 things, a lot of history is probably lost in the course of life and the moving forward part of life. Maybe there will be a lot less lost because of the "internet age" -- don't you think?