Apollo 11: My, How We’ve Changed!

Alan-Apollo 11 1969

Yeah, that’s me on the left… I was 11 years old there, and that white blotch was the TV picture screen. It’s hard to describe the impact on a young mind… Remember, those were the days of transistor radios. There was no cable television, let alone MTV. Cordless phones? Ha! No home computers, no CDs or DVDs, no calculators (though if you knew what you were doing with a decent K&E or Pickett slide rule you could hold your own.)

There was none of it. Yet there we were… All watching a human — an American! — walking on a Moon that was 240,000 miles away from all the rest of us. Stunning. Numbing. Inspiring. To put it all in perspective, the on-board computer on Apollo 11 contained a whopping 2 KB of RAM. Today, a $50 HP 33s scientific calculator from Staples contains 16 times that.

Indeed the times have changed. What was JFK’s dream of space flight in general has become routine and the stuff of amazing budget cuts. What once was the stuff of heroes like John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, et al has been replaced by “who“. (Go ahead and try to rattle off the names of the current shuttle crew or the ISS occupants… Do you even know what the acronym “ISS” stands for?)

Once we were a people of “can-do”, a society of folks who believed that engineers could do the impossible with virtually nothing, almost instantaneously. Now, we’re a litigation-happy agenda-driven politically-driven selfish-brat rabble who want everything and more with less than nothing, yesterday. But hey! At least we still have “The View”.

Yup, we’ve changed… Take me back to 1969.

Alan Speakman


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