Newspapers By Computer Still A Few Years Off In 1981

- - The Future

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry… can’t you see it man, that thing, it’s trying to destroy you, smash it.

Thanks Nathan.

There Are 32 Comments On This Article.

  1. I still haven’t warmed to the idea of reading the paper via your laptop while on the mug!

  2. James Jones

    makes you think about any half-baked technology that we may overlook right now, which is prepping to revolutionize the world within the next generation.

  3. Great video find! I like the fact that the “science” editor did the reporting. Did you note when he said “we are not doing this to make money?” Gosh, I wish they were!

  4. I love that it takes 5 hours to download the TEXT of the newspaper. Fantastic.

    In the future, my kids will find it hilarious about how long it takes to load that YouTube video on my first generation iPhone.

  5. To put this in context, the Macintosh computer was still three years away from being introduced.
    Heck, USA Today was still a year away from being printed.
    Newspapers still made major money in 1981. They could afford to experiment then.
    As for the dial-up technology, little else was available commercially.

  6. It’s easy to get stuck on the internet angle here, I think. And it is odd to think that the newspaper industry could be transformed so drastically in less than 30 years. But the change that’s really made it possible for online publications to beat the hell out of print happened a lot more quickly than that.

    One of the big reasons that the newspaper and magazine industries are getting killed by the online pubs is the ‘coming of age’ of digital photography technology in just the last ten years.

    Ten years ago, I was managing the scanning department for a pre-press house in Connecticut. As recently as that, almost all of the photos that appeared in print were shot on film and scanned–either at a pre-press house or by an in-house pre-press department. Digital cameras existed, but they weren’t very common, and models that could deliver the quality and resolution needed for print were extremely expensive and mostly used for studio work. Add to this the fact that film scanners was also prohibitively expensive at the time; the Linotype-Hell drum scanner we used cost close to $200,000 and even our Scitex flatbed scanner would’ve been beyond what the average person could afford. My point being that, if you had a magazine or newspaper in those days you also needed a pre-press house to scan the photographers’ chromes and get them into print. That was just how it was. There was competition between this magazine and that, or this newspaper and that one, but print media pretty much had the market cornered because no one could do it faster, and very few could afford to do it at all.

    I remember standing around by the drum scanner one night, waiting for a guy to get off a plane with chromes that had been shot at a golf tournament in the U.K. somewhere. It seems incredible now, but we were waiting for the chromes to arrive so we could scan them, retouch and color correct them, and get them into a magazine that would appear on newstands by the end of the week.

    Fast forward to today, people who shoot film are becoming about as rare as people who shot digital tens years ago. And images from golf tournaments in the U.K. are on a magazine’s site shortly after the match is over, if not while the game’s still going on. Clearly, print publications can’t compete with the internet for immediacy. Who wants to pay to read about something that happened days or weeks ago, when you can read about and see stuff that’s still going on for free?

    Steve

    • @Steve, you just put the finger on the problem. “print publications can’t compete with the internet for immediacy.” That’s so true! That’s why media should change and offer what the internet can’t afford. I live in France and I observed a big change in the newspaper Liberation. The internet version is trying new things (even selling low price design furniture : people vote put their name on the furniture they would like to buy and the ones that have the necessary hits are produced to the number of clicks so to have no waist and so better prices)and so on. In the print issue you have more in depth reportages that need a professional journalist approach, time and money that you can’t read anywhere else.So if you want to read it… you buy the newspaper. Seams easy no?

  7. Steve Skoll

    “…can copy it and save it onto paper… which I think is the future…”

    Paper is the future! That’s a relief.

    -Steve

  8. “Of the estimated two to three thousand home computer owners in the Bay area…”

    Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?

    This was a priceless find. Thanks for sharing!

    Matt, resuming his game of Pong.

  9. “For the moment, at least, this fellow (at a news stand) doesn’t have to worry about losing his job” The moment has come albeit 25+ years later.

  10. It is actually kind of sad in light of how much the newspaper industry is suffering because of the internet. They never thought of monetizing it back then because it was a curiosity, then when it all happened so fast, the newspapers couldn’t be agile enough. It is going to be interesting to see how it all pans out.

    What a fantastic find.

  11. Debra Weiss

    What’s even more sad is the statement from David Cole who says “we’re trying to figure out what it’s going to mean to the editors, reporters and to the home user.” No where in this piece is the word photography ever mentioned.

    Debra Weiss

  12. i think that guy on the street is plenty worried now.
    priceless. love the dial up phone. and it only took two hours to transmit!

  13. Thanks for posting this amazing video clip. Once upon a time life was so simple, and todays commonplace technology was news-worthy future gazing.
    One can only wonder what state newspapers would be in today without the rush to the ‘net? An industry shooting itself in the foot I wonder?

  14. Crazy to see this now… I wonder what people thought while they were watching this in 1981!?!?!?!

    And the last quote… “this guy does not have to worry about losing his job.” referring to the newspaper salesman! That gets me!

  15. Hey! What happened to Billy’s message regarding Timmy’s messages disappearing from this page?

  16. This conversation isn’t over! And, it’s certainly not “over a cliff”! Come on Web 2.0ers! Let’s get talking! For real!