One Small Step for -a- Man . . .

It’s interesting to take another look at the “one small step for [a] man” controversy. Obviously, Armstrong meant to say “for a man” to contrast with “one giant leap for Mankind.” But most people heard no “a” and despite Armstrong’s claim that he did say the “a,” many continue to believe he didn’t say it.

An article from 2006 in the Houston Chronicle, reprinted on, states:

The missing word was found this month [October 2006] in a software analysis of Armstrong’s famous phrase by Peter Shann Ford, a Sydney, Australia-based computer programmer. Ford’s company, Control Bionics, specializes in helping physically handicapped people use their nerve impulses to communicate through computers.

On Thursday, Ford and Auburn University historian James R. Hansen, Armstrong’s authorized biographer, presented the findings to Armstrong and others in a meeting at the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. They repeated the presentation at NASA’s Washington headquarters, which has long backed Armstrong’s version of the phrasing.

“I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford’s analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word.”

According to Ford, Armstrong spoke, “One small step for a man … ” with the “a” lasting a total of 35 milliseconds, 10 times too quickly to be heard.”

The “a” was transmitted, though, and can be verified in an analysis using Canadian sound-editing software called GoldWave, Ford said.

If you think about it, it’s easy to slur the “a” and lose it in the low-fidelity radio transmission. Not only that, Armstrong’s diction might have been slightly compromised by his actually being the first man on the moon….

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