AT&T Tech Channel

About this video

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men on the moon when they landed in the Sea of Tranquility. During their initial 21-hour foray onto the lunar surface, they received a telephone call from President Nixon. This is historic footage of that interaction. (The call was made around midnight, so some reports list the call as happening on July 21.) Nixon himself considered it the most important call he had made during his time in office, even more specifically, "the most historic phone call ever made from the White House."

So how was the call made? How do you call the moon? Simply, the call went from the Oval Office in Washington D.C. to Houston, where it was routed into space via Mission Control, through the capsule communicator, or CapCom, astronaut Bruce McCandless II. On the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, audio of this interaction, and, in fact, audio of the entire mission was made widely available.

When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth, they were greeted by Nixon himself on the U.S.S. Hornet, the vessel which picked up the recovery spacecraft.

The Bell System was involved with the American space program through the subsidiary that worked with NASA, BellComm. BellComm was formed in 1962 to supply technical and project management advice for the manned space flight program. That relationship evolved to include engineering, communications and analysis. BellComm was dissolved in 1972. For more information, see the film about BellComm, What If?.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ

Release date: 07/20/2012