When Neil H. Armstrong, a blond, blue-eyed, thirty-eight-year-old civilian astronaut from Wapakoneta, Ohio, steps out of the lunar landing module this summer and plants his size eleven space boot on the surface of the moon, the event will eclipse in historic importance the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World. Commander Armstrong's step will not immediately affect the nature of the quality of life on earth, of course (neither did Columbus'), but it will mark the departure point of a fantastic new adventure in the saga of man. For that step onto the moon will signal a readiness to travel throughout the solar system, even the universe â" in flights that will lead not merely to new worlds, new substances, new conceptions about the nature of matter and of life itself, but, it can scarcely be doubted, to contact with new beings as well. Moreover, Armstrong's will be the first such epic stride to be recorded in detail by the microphone and the television camera. Future generations will be able to relive all that was said and done at that moment as never before in the history of exploration. The stupendous magnitude and unprecedented visibility of what Commander Armstrong is about to do, therefore, combine to pose the question: when the astronaut takes the first step on the moon, what should he say?
I believe it may have been Gore Vidal who made the suggestion that still sticks in my mind after forty-three years: "We come in peace for all mankind. Now come out from behind that rock with your hands up."
Prof: So the American government went to IBM to come up with a data encryption standard and they came up with ... Student: EBCDIC!"