The launching of sputnik led directly to the establishment of NASA in the US in the middle of 1958.
As a seven year old I remember watching Sputnik with my family. I remember being disappointed that it just looked like a star moving across the sky. I think I expected it to look bigger. Although the satellite was very shiny, as can be seen in the photograph, it was actually too small to see from the ground. What we really saw was the burnt out second stage of the rocket booster.