Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Online news in 1981

All eight newspaper sites, publishing via dial up, were only weeks old at the time. It took over two hours to receive the full text of the paper over the phone line ... at $5 per hour!
"This is an experiment," says David Cole of the San Francisco Examiner. "We're trying to figure out what it's going to mean to us as editors and reporters and what it means to the home user." (No office users back then.)

"And we're not in it to make money."

*!*

"We're probably not going to lose a lot, but we aren't going to make much either."
An elderly 'home user' (1:35) - who must be 70 if he's a day - really gets it, though.

Says Mr Halloran, "I think it's the future of the type of interrogation the individual will give to the newspaper."

2 comments:

Robert Barnes said...

Wow. That is priceless. I actually used a similar online database of newspapers in one of my first jobs (at a PR company in the UK). But that was 1993 and it hadn't moved on much since then! That was pre-internet too although we were kind of aware that the internet was happening, but it was really difficult to search and hardly any content. Definitely no full newspaper articles.

With the online database you paid by the word you downloaded and we had to construct very long coded search strings. If you got a letter wrong it could end up costing hundreds of pounds. Those were the days.

hm said...

My online memory only goes back as far as 1995. In 1997, or thereabouts, we were using an inhouse built CMS at BRW Media and manually converting data - text, tables, images etc - for publication. Very different from now, but it really was quite an exciting time. By that stage the web had more or less progressed beyond the walled garden approach, but was of course still dial up based. What we lost in speed of access and download times we gained in creative freedom to try new things.