"Man on the moon! Whew! Boy."
That's all that Walter Cronkite could think of to say on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, who died on Saturday, first touched down on the surface of the moon. The CBS anchor was, like everyone else in the world, rendered speechless by the scale of what he had just witnessed. He clasped his hands together and grinned boyishly, and then sat back to watch.
Armstrong's feat was, to put it mildly, a big deal, and the historic nature of the event was reflected in the way the media covered it at the time. The New York Times, for instance, has only used 96-point type on four occasions in its history: the resignation of President Nixon, the 9/11 attacks, the election of President Obama, and the moon landing.
The famed Times article about the landing, by science writer John Noble Wilford, called it an "ancient dream fulfilled":
It was man's first landing on another world, the realization of centuries of dreams, the fulfillment of a decade of striving, a triumph of modern technology and personal courage, the most dramatic demonstration of what man can do if he applies his mind and resources with single-minded determination.
Other papers were similarly awestruck. The Boston Globe wrote that Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had "brought the dawn of a new era in the evolution of man." The Denver Post reminded its readers, "you'll want to save this historic edition."
Below, see some of the ways the media covered the landing that catapulted Neil Armstrong into world history.
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