Apollo 11: As It Happened is a six-hour compilation of ABC News coverage of the Apollo 11 launch, Moon landing, and return to Earth, July 16 – 24, 1969. No commercials. No narration. Just six hours of pure, unadulterated news coverage — enough to satisfy even the most hard-core fan of the space program or news junkie. The complete recording, a digital copy of a VHS videotape I recorded in July 1994 from a public television broadcast, is available above from the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
As I was born in 1964, I grew up with the space program and counted astronauts among my first role models and heroes. I can even remember the Moon landing, sort of. I was four years old and my family was vacationing in Wildwood, New Jersey. It was a few minutes before 11 P.M. and I was drifting in and out of sleep when my father abruptly woke me up just in time to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon — which I did, and immediately fell back to sleep. I'm grateful to count myself among those who watched that day, if but just for a little while.
What makes this a real treasure are all the segments ABC produced to fill the news cycle. Several of these segments have previously been posted on Aeolus 13 Umbra and include:
Additionally, “man on the street” interviews provide an insight into the real excitement people felt at the Moon landing, something which is all too often overlooked today. ABC News anchor Frank Reynolds and science editor Jules Bergman host the coverage, which pushed the technology of the times to its limits. A young Peter Jennings reporting on the news elsewhere in the world, including Vietnam, adds a somber tone to the momentous events.
As an artifact for research, Apollo 11: As It Happened provides source material and insight into a wide variety of areas, including broadcast engineering, computer technology, fashion, and language. Along with interviews of various people, including scientists, celebrities, reporters, authors, artists, and everyday citizens — both young and old and black and white — we get a glimpse at "the State of the Union" in July 1969.
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