The Adidas Satellite

When we think of a soccer ball, we immediately picture the familiar black and white hexagon design. But this hasn’t always been the case. In 1970, Adidas unveiled a ‘revolutionary’ new soccer ball – its design was inspired by the telecommunication satellite, Telstar.


8 years prior to the Adidas soccer ball, a rocket launched from Cape Canaveral carrying an experimental communication satellite.

Funded by AT&T at a price tag of $50 million ($392 million at today’s value) the satellite, Telstar, would soon revolutionize communications across the globe.

Once in orbit, the Telstar satellite was capable of relaying phone calls and faxes across continents, more impressive was its ability to transmit video signals, successfully broadcasting the first live televisions feed across the Atlantic ocean between the US, UK and France.

JFK live feed to Europe via the Telstar. Previous satellite transmissions had been limited to within the US continent.

The success of the Telstar satellite spurred a pop-culture sensation inspiring rock songs, home video game consoles and ultimately, the Adidas Telstar soccer ball.

Prior to the Adidas Telstar, soccer balls were either a brown or beige color, making it difficult to follow the ball on black & white televisions. The Adidas Telstar’s innovative black & white design made the ball a lot easier to follow on TV screens.