Dubbed “Chatterbox,” the satellite was also part of another first, as its launch marked the first successful use of an Atlas rocket as a launch vehicle.
According to NASA, “The spacecraft body served as antennae. This satellite was to demonstrate the feasibility of, and explore problems associated with, operation of a satellite communication system.”
The craft carried messages on a tape recorder which was also used to send a Christmas greeting from President Eisenhower.
On December 19th, President Eisenhower announced:
"This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite traveling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America's wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere."