First, the snarky stuff. "Heh, heh. Betamax. Heh, heh." OK, that's out of the way --
I was in graduate school, in my apartment with the flu. I awoke from a nap and turned on the TV. Still just half awake, there was Dan Rather, talking in a somber voice about the Challenger and its crew. It took me about two minutes to piece togther that he was talking about it having just blown up. Then they showed the footage.
I had to share it with someone, so I called my graduate student office number and told them to get in front of a TV, or turn on NPR, or something, because the Challenger had just exploded shortly after launch. I got dressed and went in, after that. I didn't feel like being alone. It turns out my call is how the entire department heard about the disaster.