Online Newspapers: 1981

This 1981 television report on the burgeoning “newspapers by computer” concept is fascinating on a number of levels:

Amusingly, the project started almost as a lark, with no intention of turning a profit.  And they were right!   Less so, alas, on the impact of the profitability of the print edition.

And, as Jason Kottke notes, these were “the days when ‘Owns Home Computer’ was a useful differentiating label.”  Indeed, Kottke points us to a fascinating essay from the following year by the Atlantic‘s James Fallows chronicling his pioneering use of a fantastically expensive computer to write articles.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. I don’t think that anyone in the newspaper business ever thought that the online world would be anything other than a supplement to the print world.

    Sort of like the horse and buggy people probably never really considered the automobile a threat, until it was too late.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    The difference is that you can still buy a buggy whip or even a buggy if you’ve a mind to. It may not be possible to buy a newspaper, at least not one with serious news, in the foreseeable future.