RW: This is the signal, a radio-transmitted signal that comes from Sputnik. I'm not sure if they had any other channels that were broadcasting but this was the one that was published as a frequency where (sounds)!
INT: So, what is this sound that we're listening to, Roy?
RW: Well this is a recording of Sputnik One that I recorded on the evening of October 6, 1957. It's the frequency that was being used on twenty point zero zero two approximately megahertz and the signal that you're hearing is the transmitter being keyed on and off the air to produce this beeping sound. And occasionally you'll notice that the beeping sound stretches into one long conunkeyed radio carrier signal. I'm not sure what that was doing or what that was thcause or whether this was intentional or accidental. But you can hear it at least twice on this tape.
INT: And what do you think the significance of this sound is?
RW: The significance of the sound, I am not quite sure of. I don't know if there was telemetry being broadcast or if this was strictly a propaganda type of operation where it was just announcing to the world 'here I am' and 'look what we've done over here' and that you people haven't done it yet.
INT: Did you feel that American had lost a race?
RW: I felt like we'd been preceded by someone else in getting into this race but at that time I really can't say that I had a feeling that we had lost the race. I was more excited about the thing than I was concerned about having lost a race at that time. The feeling was there though very definitely that why couldn't we have done this. We had the capability, we had the technology. Why somebody else?
INT: Is this the recording we're listening to, is this really the first voice from space?
RW: It is the first the recording that we're hearing is the first signals of a man-made satellite in orbit around the earth, yes. It's probably not the first signals from space since man had bounced radio signals off the moon prior to this time.
INT: How important a point in the Cold War do you think the launching of Sputnik was?
RW: I think perhaps the launching of Sputnik in the midst the Cold War emphasized more than anything else that somebody else had the technology to put something into orbit that might have the capability of hurting us. This was not my most immediate concern but it was very definitely there in the background 'cos this was a time where school-children were being taught how to duck under the desk at the first flash and that sort of thing. And I think that was the big concern that in a lot of the people who heard about Sputnik being in orbit was that here now, the Russians had the capability of dropping something on us that we were not ready for.
INT: Excellent answer. Could we stop the tape
(Break in tape)
CAMERAMAN: There may have been a very slight light change in.
INT: OK, no problem. What I'd like to do in this reply to me if you can please Roy is do a bit more of a continuation and tell me that in 1957 you were a Bell telephone engineer in Texas and it was a. it was a standard day for you and then you came out that evening and you saw the headlines and if you do do it all as one piece, right up to the point where you went out into the garden with your daughter, that would be right.
RW: OK, fine.
INT: Roy, what happened to you in October 1957?
RW: 1957 in October I was employed at Southwestern Bell telephone company in Dallas, Texas and on the evening of October the 4th, I walked out of my office and out of the building where I worked in downtown Dallas, turned out of the building down the street toward the corner and saw a newsstand with newspaper with headlines two inches high on it at least. In very bold headlines. I can't remember the exact wording, but something along the lines 'Russians orbit space satellite' or 'Russians put baby moon into orbit', something along those lines and I was just dumbfounded 'cos I had not expected it. I knew it was possible, I just had not expected it at that time. I briefly glanced at the top part of the paper and saw the radio frequencies where this device was transmitting and could hardly wait for the rest of the car pool to assemble so we could get home and I could try to listen for this thing. When I got home, I went into my radio shack, if you will, in the house and the receivers there which did not cover the frequency, were not capable of hearing this thing. But I did have a World War II surplus piece of equipment out in our garage that had been out there for some time unused. it was too heavy to bring into the house. So I powered that thing up and tuned one of the channels to just above 20 megahertz in frequency and there faintly in the very distant background, among all the noise and other things, I could hear this little chirping sound, more like a cricket chirping than it was a beep, if you will. And it persisted for over an hour. It was still there. It would get stronger and it would get weaker so at that time I knew very definitely probably I was hearing a signal from the satellite.
INT: Excellent answer, first class. And then what happened when you started you knew you'd got the satellite signal.
(Break in tape)
INT: Later that evening what did you do?
RW: Well, later that evening I was still hearing the satellite and for that evening and the next evening, I was more or less trying to determine when this thing was going to come by close enough that I might see it or that I might hear it better. And then on two nights later, the night of the 6th of October, I hooked up my radio receiver, turned it on again, fastened a tape recorder to it this time and my young daughter and I lay on a pallet out in the driveway. She had determined that she could stay up later if she wanted to watch Sputnik with me and not have to go to bed as early. And then with the radio playing where we could hear the signal coming closer in the distance, we lay on this pallet facing out to the south-west and waited to see what we could see. And at one point then we begin to see a little flash of light and it was moving, similar to what you would see with an airplane but it the flash was at a different rate. And as it got closer, we could see that it really wasn't flashing. It was really getting dimmer and brighter and finally we determined that that was the last-stage rocket booster tumbling end over end that we were seeing and the sun was still shining on it up there while it was dark down where we were. And we determined later that the satellite was really following Sputnik itself was following the rocket booster but to hear the signal from the satellite and then to see that rocket chasing, tumbling end over end just had the effect of giving me goose-bumps I guess at that time.