There may be few -- if any -- TV moments that fired the world's imagination like the televised broadcast the night of July 20, 1969, when astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Ed "Buzz" Aldrin landed on the moon. For the first time in history, humans set foot on another celestial body.
And the world was there with them.
NASA pilots and astronauts, and their counterparts in the USSR, had already accomplished a number of feats: breaking the sound barrier, flying into space and performing work in orbit. But the lunar landing was one of the most significant undertakings in the space race, and NASA wanted to make sure that the event was broadcast to as wide an audience as possible.
The effect was striking. An entire generation of Americans -- the Baby Boomers -- marked the late-night broadcast as a pivotal moment in their childhoods. If America could put a man on the moon, they reasoned, anything would be possible. That optimism has marked that generation for decades, and it stands as living proof of the power of the live broadcast.