AT&T Archives: The Bell Solar Battery

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This 1956 film chronicles the invention of the solar battery by Bell Labs.

The first solar cell design from Bell Laboratories was tested in the field on a telephone carrier system in Georgia in 1955. The Bell System used 3,600 solar cells to power the satellite Telstar in 1962, and since then solar has been standard in design for space. However, it took decades for the price of solar cells to come down to where they could compete with other forms of energy--and they are still slow to be adopted in regions with strong sun patterns. Efficiency of solar technology has also greatly improved along the way
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