The discovery of cosmic gamma-ray bursts, based on an analysis of data produced by the Vela defense satellites was announced in Ap.J. letters in 1973 by Klebesadel, Strong, and Olsen. The story of the discovery begins 10 years earlier, in October of 1963, when the US Air Force launched the first in this series of satellites inspired by a nuclear test ban treaty. Interest in the events surrounding this discovery has been piqued by the recent public debate on the distance scale to the burst sources. Details of the Vela program to detect nuclear detonations and general circumstances surrounding the discovery of gamma-ray bursts of ``cosmic origin'' are presented.