The Groundbreaking Camera That Captured Man's First Steps on the Moon

Illustration for article titled The Groundbreaking Camera That Captured Mans First Steps on the Moon

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man on the moon. This unassuming, metal box was actually the Westinghouse Apollo Lunar Television Camera that broadcasted his momentous first steps to millions of viewers across the world.


The Apollo TV camera, with its Secondary Electron Conduction tube-based sensor, could only record 250 lines of of black and white TV data at a measly 10 frames per second-terrible compared to even the cheapest camera phones on the market today. But that was all that was needed to captivate all of humanity-which makes sense. After all, the best camera in the world (or in this case out of it) is the one you have with you.

Westinghouse employee Stan Lebar was chosen to manage the development of the camera. A task which, given the requirements that it had to be operable in temperatures of up to 250˚F and down to -250˚F while drawing only 6.25 watts of electricity, seemed nearly impossible at the time. That's less than a single christmas light. But Lebar and his team pulled it off.


Click through to the Atlantic to read more about how the image was broadcast back to Earth and recent efforts to retouch the original footage [The Atlantic]

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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According to the tail end of that article they haven't found the original recordings of the slow scan (first generation) video from the Apollo 11 landing. Those clips were remastered from the broadcast TV recordings (second generation) Because slow scan is incompatible with regular television, they converted by pointing a TV camera at a slow scan monitor.

Think cell phone recording in a movie theater. Even with enhancement it's nowhere near the source quality.