Neil Armstrong made headlines this weekend when he passed away due to a complication from recent heart surgery. Although he was a very private man, Armstrong will always be remembered as the first man to walk on the moon.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong landed on the moon with these words:
“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Back on Earth a few days later, Armstrong was quick to state that he was misquoted and insists that he said a man. The addition might seem trivial, but it changes the entire meaning of quote. The quote was meant to address that although Armstrong was just a single man physically stepping down a ladder onto a new surface, all of mankind was metaphorically stepping out into a different world. Without the a in the quote, Armstrong is stating that it is just one small step for all men (and women), but one giant step for all men (and women). Obviously, the quote does not make sense this way.
In 2006, a computer programmer, Peter Ford, ran an audio recording of Armstrong’s famous quote through his software and the analysis concluded there was an a stated during the transmission that was lost between the moon and Earth.
Although Armstrong acknowledged that he could not hear the a in the recording, he maintained until his death that it was stated.