“A” is for Astronaut

Deconstructing one of history's most famous one-liners

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon on July 20, 1969, and made his poetic proclamation, the world heard, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Did the world hear Armstrong wrong?

Armstrong, who died in 2012, insisted for years that his actual words were, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He said the “a” was inaudible. A debate has persisted for decades and UO linguist Melissa Baese-Berk has studied the question.

Listen to an audio file of Neil Armstrong’s moon landing–do you hear an “a?” Please adjust the volume of your audio equipment before playing.