Business as Usual
I can't help being a little glad that the telegraph companies have had this object lesson. … Wireless is affected by certain things which do not hinder the ordinary lines, but in this matter we have the advantage.
—Guglielmo Marconi, 1909
After the Galaxy IV satellite ceased operating on May 19, 1997, millions of pager owners woke up to discover a bit later that their high-tech devices had turned into useless pieces of plastic. When they got into their cars and tried to pump gas at the local service station, the pumps rejected their credit cards because they were unable to use the satellite to transmit and receive verification codes. One hundred thousand privately owned satellite dish systems across North America had to be repointed at a cost of one hundred dollars each. In other locales, Yankee ingenuity found a clever work-around to the loss of Galaxy IV. The British Broadcasting Company's news program on Houston's KPFT radio station went silent, so the station turned to the Internet to gain access to the program instead. The station didn't want listeners to miss the exciting story about criminals in Bombay who launder their money through the movie industry and were prone to killing directors if the movies bombed at the box office. Meanwhile, Data Transmission Network Corporation lost service to its 160,000 subscribers, costing the company over $6 million. Newspapers and wire services noted that this was the day that the Muzak died, because the Galaxy IV also took with it