Apollo 11 – the Moon landing’s legacy

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Hand’s up who remembers 21st July 1969? Did your parents wake you up, in what felt like the middle of the night, to watch on a small black and white TV screen the moment that Neil Armstrong, leader of the Apollo 11 mission, stepped out of the Lunar Module (‘Eagle’) to became the first person to walk onto the lunar surface? There are a handful of childhood events, including this momentous step, that this viewer, as an eleven year old, remembers with absolute awe and clarity.

The enormity of men being shot into space ahead a giant fuel canister to orbit the Earth and then be pointed in a different trajectory to the Moon’s orbit and surface, there to land safely, open the sealed hatch and climb out. Simply breathtaking both in its spirit and execution. The First Walk on the Moon was simply awe inspiring.

Armstrong was followed onto the Moon’s surface by his co-venturers, Buzz Aldrin. They spent a couple of hours making auspicious speeches and collecting rocks. After nearly a day in the Sea of Tranquility they blasted back to the command module (‘Columbia’) piloted by Michael Collins. They were returned to terra firma having safely splashed down in the Pacific on 24th July 1969.

I was certainly old enough to realize that the Mission to the Moon was the most magical blend of evolutionary technology of semi-conductors and computers, the guile of America’s military aviators, the obviously immense resources of the NASA Space Program. It was also the culmination of the dream of a brilliant and driven leader, the late President John F. Kennedy, who in 1961 launched his country’s aim to land a man safely on the Moon before the end of the decade.

Aside from the warm and fuzzy feeling of all things vintage and American, Coke fridges, leather sleeved varsity jackets, Levi’s and classic muscle cars what else can be seen as the legacy of man’s early musings with space travel?

The Apollo mission kick-started a series of major innovations the legacy of which continue to be seen, felt and enjoyed today. Some of the many spin-offs from the Space Race include the following:

The Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scanner now more regularly used to detect cancer and other abnormalities was used to identify any imperfections in space components that would only be magnified by the unique stresses and environmental issues associated with zero gravity and the g-force associated with space travel.

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The Computer Microchip, the integrated circuits and semi-conductors used in the Apollo mission’s guidance software spawned the modern microchip that appears in everything from you laptop, to you TV remote control and your oven’s regulatory systems.

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Cordless tools. Lacking the inability to plug in electrical tools on the Moon’s surface, power tools including cordless drills and vacuum cleaners were developed – initially by Black & Decker in 1961 – with integral battery packs enabling the collection of rock and dust samples.

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In-Ear Infrared thermometer. A detector of infrared energy that is felt as heat that was developed to monitor the birth of stars found an alternative use with In-Ear thermometers.

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Freeze-dried food. Since the Moon mission we have been fascinated by rehydrated food, Thai pot soups, noodle dishes and the like. Originally devised to minimize weight these packets of goodness fueled the men in space. This technology had first been developed in the Second World War for carrying blood long distances without refrigeration. Nasa was first to create freeze dried iced cream – but it doesn’t seem to have been that popular amongst the astronauts.

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Home Insulation materials. If you have ever unrolled in the your attic reflective insulated matting you may not know that the shiny material used was developed to deflect radiation away from spacecrafts.

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Invisible braces. Each of my three children has received the attention of the dentists and the application of braces that resulted in perfectly straight teeth. The process has been improved by the use of transparent ceramic brace brackets made from materials developed for spacecraft.

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Joysticks as used on computer gaming consoles were devised for Apollo Lunar Rover.

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Memory foam – for many, me excluded, they say that sleeping on a memory foam mattress or pillow results in a splendid night’s sleep. For me they are usually too firm but the underlying tech was created to improve the comfort of aircraft seats and helmets.

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You may not be surprised to hear that satellite television technology, primarily devised to repair relay signals from spacecrafts and to unscramble satellite sound and images sent from space now sits at the core of home satellite driven services.

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At the optician when ordering a new pair of glasses you will almost certainly have been asked if you would like a ‘scratch resistant coating’ to be added. Substantially improving the long term wear and tear on glasses these coatings were developed to make astronaut helmet visors scratch resistant.

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Whilst shoe insoles have been around for years, indeed the likes of trusty beach worn Birkenstocks are based on the eponymous insole a challenge for athletic shoe companies was to adapt an insole for the Space missions boot designs to maximize on ventilation and springy comfort.

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An absolute must around any home is a smoke detector with good batteries. It may surprise you to know that Nasa invented the first adjustable smoke detector that was programmed with a level of sensitivity that prevented false alarms. Just as essential in the small cabins on board spacecrafts.

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The design of a space rocket is perhaps a classic example of drag reduction. Interestingly Nasa deployed the same principles of drag reduction to help create for Speedo a world beating, but highly controversial, swimsuit the LZR Racer.

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Aside from bottled oxygen, filtered and clean water was one of vital elements needed in space. NASA developed a filtering technique that killed bacteria in water. This has subsequently been used to deliver filtered water in millions of homes.

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Velcro – whilst not strictly a product developed for the Space Race, the system of a hook-and-loop fastener was originally conceived in 1941 by a Swiss engineer George de Mestral. NASA made significant use of touch fasteners in myriad of ways including the closing of astronauts’ suits, anchoring equipment during maintained and for trays at mealtimes to avoid them floating away.

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Artificial limbs – Nasa is a world leader in the science of robotics devised primarily to remotely control space vehicles. The technology had been adopted to give artificial limbs greater functionality.

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If you have ever completed the London Marathon, for example, you may recall crossing the line to be shrouded in a silver foil blanket. These blankets were developed in 1964 they are excellent at  reflecting infrared radiation but they also enable the body to they retain heat and reduce the risks from hypothermia.

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The Bacon hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell celebrated British engineer, Tom Bacon, developed an existing and century old technology to create a patented fuel cell that provided electrical power for the Apollo mission. The science that combined hydrogen and oxygen to create a reaction that caused heat that could be converted to electricity also had a useful by-product, water: which the astronauts drank. Fuel cells have been used to create electric vehicles including the Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity and Mercedes-Benz F-Cell, where the technology is seen as a having great green credentials.

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The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch is part of a range of manually winded chronometers launched by the Swiss watch brand in 1957 and used as part of Omega’s role as the official timekeeper for the Olympic Games. The “Moonwatch”, a combination of both timepiece and stopwatch, was water-resistant, shock-proof, and could withstand 12Gs of acceleration endured by the astronauts during their mission. It was first worn during NASA’s Gemini missions that included the first space walk. The Moonwatch was on the wrists of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, when the former two took their first steps on the Moon. It remains a firm favourite with those who love this Swiss watch brand which has created a series of Special Editions to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Moon landing.

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Favourite T-Shirts

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I have a favourite T Shirt – our featured image. It’s not the slightly lewd text, nor the “End of the Pier” – “Nudge, Nudge” – humour that appeals most to me. It’s the fact that Mrs W bought it over 20 years ago in New York City and it is loved as much for the item as the thought that went into its purchase.

Indeed it may have been on impulse – she doesn’t like shopping much – but it is the expression of her view towards me as her then relatively new husband who was coming to terms with his then slightly thinning hair. It’s been worn by us both over the years and amazingly it has outlasted many branded shirts that have been worn half as much.

I like T-Shirts especially as the summer turns to crank up the heat into the early 30’s.

T-Shirts have, in my view, to deliver in two simple respects. They need to be 100% cotton – whatever the brands try to persuade you of their new wonder fabric that will keep you as cool as a Polar Bear’s backside – sorry cotton is best. It’s also needs to be slightly on the big side allowing it to flap in whatever wind is available capturing some cooling and fanning effect as it goes.

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For me, some of the very best T-Shirts are made by Fruit of the Loom – they are consistently good and I really respect a company that stays loyal – in the main – to the one product that they are noted for and deliver year after year. We have featured Fruit of the Loom on Aestheticons before and you can read our previous post here – Fruit of the Loom – T shirts

I really like certain iconic T-Shirts that shout loudly about your preferences. Many of you will know of my love for New York City and the iconic Milton Glaser design – I ❤️ NY – is simply, though a little cliched by over familiarity, but as valid as a tattoo.

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Equally my London home is well represented by the shirts of the Hard Rock Cafe – again a little jaded and over-exposed – you can pick up the same shirt in London, Moscow or Marbella – but still its a cultural icon. Hard Rock Cafe T Shirt

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Last year I picked up on a ranking of the 10 most Iconic T-Shirts – Iconic T-Shirts    there will be those who will make it their mission – not in any charitable campaign sense but just as a bit of fun – to seek to collect all 10. Not for me, but please go ahead.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy your T-Shirts and I’d love to know which T-Shirts are your treasures!

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Image credits – with grateful thanks – Milton Glaser, Hard Rock Cafe and Fruit of the Loom.

 

Iconic TV Advertisements

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As we emerge from the Christmas Season when parlour games and an over-dose of TV co-incide I wanted to pay homage to those moments of TV history that are either so creative, successful or engaging that they allow us to be described as iconic.

There can be little doubting the power of the well-timed TV advertisement to support the marketing efforts of a major brand in a critical buying season. However, there are some commercials that go beyond the marketing mix to become – almost National Treasures – being both iconic and loved by audiences.

Here are a few TV commercials that have an appeal all their own. I make no apology for the nostalgic nature of this collection as, to some extent, the core audience was then less sophisticated. The “short-hand” language of known music to accompany aspirational images is no coincidence.

The Seasonal Campaigns – when Fizzy Drinks Manufacturers and Department Stores corner the run up to Christmas.

Coca Cola Santa

Coca Cola Christmas – “Holidays are Coming” Holidays Are Coming – Coca Cola

The first iteration of the Coca Cola Christmas commercial was aired in 1995 featuring the “Christmas Cravan” of illuminated trucks as devised by agency W. B. Doner and Santa Claus as depicted in 1930’s for Coca Cola by the artist Haddon Sundblom. The song “Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)” was first used for the Coca Cola Christmas advert in 2001.

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Christmas John Lewis – “The Bear and the Hare” The Bear and The Hare

UK Department Store, John Lewis, released their first Christmas advert in 2007 but the £7m campaign in 2013 entitled “The Bear and the Hare” is truly a masterpiece. With its superb Lily Allen soundtrack (her version of Keane’s 2004 single “Somewhere Only We Know”) and meticulous artwork from a team including Aaron Blaise – known for his work with Disney – we see our hero the Hare ensuring that his hibernating friend the Bear wakes up to enjoy Christmas.

Perhaps one of the most iconic seasonable adverts that courted as much controversy as plaudits was Sainbury’s 2104 offering. This was a wonderfully evocative advert that encapsulated not only a documented historical event but made contemporary and relevant.

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The AMV BBDO produced classic harnessed the World War One commenmoration that swept the UK in 2014. The director, Ringan Ledwidge, was keen to engage the support of the Royal British Legion for whom Sainbury’s donated a heathy chunk of the sales of a special chocolate bar that reproduced part of the Tommy Christmas trench rations.

Sainbury’s “Truce” Sainsbury’s “Truce”

The Iconic:

Even if I didn’t think that Levi’s 501s – see my earlier post here – Levi 501’s were the best jeans made I suspect this advert would have converted many to this iconic brand.

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Levis – Nick Kamen Levis 501 – Marvin Gaye

First shown on Boxing Day (26.12) in 1985, it was conceived by John Hegarty and Barabara Noakes of BBH and directored by Roger Lyons. It had the desired effect of making jeans sexy and revived Levis flagging fortunes – it also stimulated the sale of boxer shorts!

Even if Guinness isn’t your beer of choice – see my earlier post here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 one of the UK’s most favourite commercials ever made was for the Black Stuff.

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Guinness Surfers and Horses

The campaign was devised in 1999 by Abbott Mead Vickers for the Guinness brand and was directed by Jonathan Glazer, who later directed the cult movie “Sexy Beast” starring Ray Winstone. It was shot in Hawaii with one surfer, known as Rusty K, finally conquering the wave. Leftfield’s track “Phat Planet” beats out the inspiration drawn from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick “Ahab says, ‘I don’t care who you are, here’s to your dream.'”

When you pursuade a major rock bands to allow you to use one of their songs in support of your first TV comercial, the launch of Windows 95, you have to expect to pay heavily for the priviledge. It is said that The Rolling Stones were paid $3m – for a six month license – but reports suggest that it was money well spent and made Microsoft a household name. Bill Gates apparently had the idea for the commercial from the “Start” button on his pc. The $200m launch was directed by Portland ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy

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Rolling Stones Microsoft – Microsoft – Rolling Stones

The Sexy, Cute and Clever:

Eating a crumbly chocolate bar in a hot bath sound perilous but Cadbury’s managed to turn jeopardy into sexy with a series of adverts in the 1980’s/90s – even if the 1991 version featured an overflowing bath that no doubt caused havoc with the downstairs neighbours…..

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Flake – Bathtime Flake

An altogether more breezy and cute image was created in 1991 by the French Publicis agency featuring a fictional father and daughter in a series of adverts for Renault’s Clio. So successful were the ads that in 1996 a survey suggested that the female lead “Nicole” – a none driver at the time of the first commercial – was more recogniseable than John Major, the then Prime Minister! The sound track to the version shown below – and there were eight ads in total – feature an acoustic recording of Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary” played by an old friend, the guitar genius, Martin Taylor.

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Renault Clio – Nicole/Papa Papa & Nicole

Adverts featuring a large numbers of extras that through careful choreography create stunning images fall into a category we call “cleaver”. In 1989 a Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for British Airways saw the combination of very beautifully Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire) directed photography, filmed in Utah, with a stunning Malcolm McLaren and Yanni produced classical soundtrack (the Flower Duet from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé”) and you have an iconic advert that’s instantly recognizable.

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British Airways BA Face Commercial

Given the proliferation of media and the understandable pressures on budgets for TV/on-screen adverts, todays advertising gurus need to be a smart as their predecessors to engage an audience quickly and convincingly.

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Image credits with thanks to Coca Cola, BBC, The John Lewis Partnership, Levi Strauss, Guinness, Leftfield, Microsoft, The Rolling Stones, Sainsbury’s, Cadburys/Mondelez and British Airways.

 

 

Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt

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Launched: 1972

Designer: Ralph Lifshitz (aka Ralph Lauren) developed his version of the Polo Shirt design – which was first launched by Rene Lacoste in 1933 – see our post here – Lacoste Shirt.

History: After designing and retailing ties, Ralph developed his Polo brand first with ties and then shirts – gaining the rights from Brooks Brothers (for whom he worked briefly in late 1964) – see our post here – Brooks Brothers Shirts  – in the process who to this day use the “original polo button-down collar” shirt on their button down range.

Launched in 1972 in 24 colours this pique cotton shirt – often features the number 3 – said to represents the number that the captain of the Polo team typically wears.

My Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt: Perhaps re-imagined and derivative but in the 1990’s a Ralph Polo shirt with its little polo-player logo was very good short hand for who you were. It continues to come in a range of amazing colours and if anything I suspect they are now cut even a little fuller than they once were. They are hard wearing and a great accompaniment to summer time short. I am very fond of them even it is only a rare sight to see me on a horse – with or without a polo stick in my hand.

Your Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt: Share your love for these fabulous shirts here….

Photo from Ralph Lauren with grateful thanks