Metal Type: Home | Library | Forum | Free Ads | Store

The Birth of On-Line News

Started by Dave Hughes, February 11, 2014, 10:37:26 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type

Dave Hughes

Back in 1981 checking the news on a computer was a bit of a drama!

QuoteThis 1981 KRON-TV news report covers the San Francisco Examiner's early attempts to deliver an online version of its news. In the report, we hear how this is the first step in newspapers' content being delivered by computers. An enthusiastic engineer predicts that one day we will get all our news – and other information – this way. With no broadband, users had to wait for two hours to get the newspaper's content to their computer over the phone

Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters


This was around the time that the Classified Advertising Manger turned up in with a bunch of real estate ads that he had loaded from the production computer onto an early PC . He said that he wanted us to develop a system to put terminals in the foyer of the building so that people could view the classified data base. Then he called the ads up one at a time. He was quite impressed with what he had done. It took about 5 or 10 seconds to display each ad. We told him that what was needed was to be able to view the ads as quickly as if you were running you finger down the page. Until then it was not viable. He was told that we would keep the project in mind.

When technology had advanced to a point where the project may have been viable young Warwick Fairfax made an attempt to privatise the company. The Company Board resigned and most of senior management resigned or took early retirement and as far as I know the project was never followed up.

What followed was turmoil. In order to pay off some of the debts incurred as a result his take over a number of publications were sold. The West Australian Newspapers looked at purchasing the Financial Review. The purchase depend on them getting part of the editorial production system. The sale fell through when we demonstrate that it was not possible to give them a system to run the Fin Review and still have a system capable of producing the Sydney Morning Herald.

Eventually Warwick could not pay his debts and lost the company. 

George Finn (Mechanic)
Gold Coast

Dave Hughes

Round about the same era, here's a handy gadget for a sports reporter to take to the match and send stories back to the sports desk.

QuoteSays Tom Watson: This was the first "laptop" I ever used - a Port-a-Bubble. The sports department at the old Westchester-Rockland newspapers would give them out to reporters to cover games. They only had about five of them, so it had to be a pretty big game - otherwise, you called the story into the desk, "writing" it from your notes over the phone to a copy editor. This gizmo worked by plugging a pay-phone handset into the top to transmit the text (very slowly). And it weighed about 30 pounds, minimum. The screen had only a line or two of displayed text as you wrote - similar to a linotype machine (I wrote a few stories on those back in the day, too). Ah, technology.

Printle: Word Puzzle for Printers Play Now

Keep in touch with Metal Type Get our newsletters

Quick Reply

Please leave this box empty:
Type the letters shown in the picture
Listen to the letters / Request another image

Type the letters shown in the picture:

Shortcuts: ALT+S post or ALT+P preview

Printers' Tales - Over 30 stories from the pre-digital age. Buy now on Amazon/Apple Books

☛ Don't miss our illustrated newsletters. Click here to see examples and subscribe. ☚