37 years, one small step, one giant leap...and one small word
It was the summer of 1969. I was downstairs watching a breaking news story (as were another 500 million of my dearest friends worldwide). Nah, it was history in the making. It was the culmination of centuries of wondering and longing. It was a commitment to a dead president. It was emblematic of what America was about (and could be again). It was race won by America. It was Neil Armstrong sliding down the handrails of the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module). Telling us he was about to step off the LEM. Then uttering the first words by man on another terrestrial sphere "That's one step for man. One giant leap for mankind." As much as I was enthralled by this history making spectacle, I thought "Did I hear him right?" As did many others. He didn't say "That's one small step for 'a' man." And even Mr. Armstrong says that he meant to put the article "a" in front of man. And has been concerned for four decades that he muffed his line.
Well, it appears that indeed he did say "a man". And that an Australian researcher has found the missing "a". Peter Ford, a computer expert, fed the sound recording through a sound analysis using high tech software and found an acoustic wave where the "a" should be. Mr. Ford's analysis indicates that Mr. Armstrong spoke the word too fast for it to be picked up and heard on the transmission or recording media used at the time.
NASA is reviewing the evidence.