Sports Illustrated traveled to London to cover Boris Becker's historic win at Wimbledon (page 18)—and we made a major bit of history ourselves. For the first time in our 30 years we were able to transmit both photographs and layouts for an overseas story via satellite. They were sent by microwave from London to the Madley earth station, 130 miles northeast in Herefordshire. From there, they were beamed up to Intelsat V. The intercontinental transmission, which takes 12 minutes per item, was received at Etam, W. Va., and then sent by telephone line to our production facilities in Manhattan.
This is an article from the July 15, 1985 issue
It took a good deal of non-electronic doing to make it all possible. SI London correspondent Lavinia Scott Elliot played the central role in this part of the feat. She arranged for darkrooms, offices, press credentials, layout tables, slide projectors, screens, several cars and drivers and a motorcyclist to ensure that everything got where it was going—intact and on time.
Did all this take a toll on Scott Elliot? Hardly. "I find the whole setup exhilarating," she says. "It's great being a part of the final stages of a story as it goes to press."
But Scott Elliot has never been able to fully enjoy the fortnight. "I usually see some of the matches in the first week," she says. "But once the finals begin, I'm usually too busy to watch. Which is fine, I suppose. I'm really just an average tennis fan—I'm not really what you might call a sports nut at all."
Scott Elliot has been especially busy in recent months. A dozen SI stories originated in Britain in the past year, and though most concerned traditional English spectacles like Wimbledon and the Derby, one event—the soccer riot incited by Liverpool fans in Brussels—made for, as Scott Elliot says, "an horrific" week.
You might expect Scott Elliot's office to conjure up images of Piccadilly Circus. Actually, she's quite serene, but the same can't be said of Smuts, her disarming and rambunctious English springer spaniel, which seems to confuse the hallways in Time-Life's London news bureau with the track at Epsom Downs.
Like all proper British dogs, Smuts had a sound education. As an undergraduate at a dog training club, he earned second-best for puppies. Scott Elliot was pleased, but felt Smuts deserved better. "A perfectly horrid Alsatian took first," she says. "They always win these puppy contests."
However, Scott Elliot readily agrees that the satellite transmission process promises to be a best-in-show winner for SI.