News report from 1981 about the Internet



This is a news report, originally run in 1981 on San Francisco’s KRON. It describes the cutting edge concept of sharing a newspaper over the internet, or what passed for the internet back then. Notice, among many signs of the times, the computer owner’s rotary dial phone, and the caption under his name “Owns Home Computer.” That was something of a novelty at that time.

Comments (25)

  1. Comment  by Byll

    Ironic that the internet has virtually killed the traditional print media as well as CD music and DVD movies.

    • Comment  by qwerty

      Indeed, print media, CD music, and DVD movies have each died for the better. I’d rather store all my media on my HDD or portable media player, instead of having to lug around loads of CD’s DVD’s and Paper’s. You can say piracy is an issue, but that is only because hollywood refuses to move away from CD’s etc., and begin working

      • Comment  by qwerty

        more practical medias.

  2. Comment  by i disagree on that

    in the past couple of years, 3 ! , free to take, no subscription required, newspapers were born in the netherlands. commuters can pick these up for free in and around the trainstation and they are quite popular. ohh and cd’s aren’t extinct .. It’s the great music that’s becoming rare and is nowhere to be found in the ‘top 10′.. which is of course the part controlled by the agencies that produce these things in the first place..

  3. Comment  by jjjjj

    Since that was done entirely on the telephone network, this did not involve the internet or a precursor.

    • Comment  by Hi Tek

      Pfft much of the internet was over dial up modem long ago.

  4. Comment  by jjjjj is daft

    jjjjj don’t be so pedantic, it’s clear that the principle is there- zero internet (dial-up or otherwise) kudos for you

  5. Comment  by Mister's Mum

    “Since that was done entirely on the telephone network, this did not involve the internet or a precursor.”

    I hope to God’s name that was a really attempt at trolling, otherwise …. try ripping your “phone line” out of the wall ..

  6. Comment  by phred

    “…with the exception of pictures, ads, and the comics.” ROTFL

  7. Comment  by ktt

    the internet isn’t killing cd, music, OR dvd’s. in fact, music sales have gone UP. the grateful dead were the first to explore this new technology economy rather than stick to the old industrial economy, noncommercial distribution of information increases the sales of commercial information.

    print media is costly and wasteful compared to electronic, so its good that its dying. and if its really good print media, it will live.

  8. Comment  by Sam

    love the fact where she says it wont be much competition for twenty cent street edition…. I am not every sure if there are still people buying paper off the street.

  9. Comment  by JBBR

    I love the ease of the internet but I can’t get away from the fact that CDs and DVDs have so much more quality

    • Comment  by adsicks

      I still say that about LPs. But my record player hooks up to my laptop with USB. But, I don’t mind paying twice the price for vinyl, it is worth it…

  10. Comment  by pizzaboy

    5/hr just for internet

  11. Comment  by lolwut

    It’s fun to laugh at old news stories about technology, but this one was pretty spot on. Good job.

  12. Comment  by Luddite

    This will never work. You just can’t beat real print on paper. . I love Jimmy Carter!

  13. Comment  by SuperSparky

    This has nothing to do with the “Internet”. The “Internet” only became public during the Clinton administration. This is merely wired modem communication between machines, not a vast “network” of computers.

    The “Internet” was a government DARPA based program that mostly universities and government agencies were using as a redundant “cold-war” communications experiment.

    CompuServe was the first to bring more computers together in a shared environment for the average consumer. However, it wasn’t the “Internet”. The 1980’s was the era of the BBS and modem. Many companies and individuals had a BBS to call (ever see “Wargames?”). Your electronic community was the list of BBS’ you frequented on a weekly basis.

    I used to run a BBS.

    Many of these technologies resulted in our Internet of today, but to say anything outside the government in the 1980’s was “The Internet” only shows ignorance of history.

  14. Comment  by SuperSparky

    One more thing. Many companies had their own computer networks, all with differing communications protocols and single access points. None were interconnected. The Internet standardized and tied them all together. What made the Internet “explode” wasn’t its information capability but its money making capability. The Internet of today exists because of Capitalism. That fueled the innovation and the world wide web, and was the reason for the browser wars (another story).

    The government created the network, private industry gave it a purpose.

  15. Comment  by AVVID

    SuperSparky is right. DARPA (Internet) wasn’t public in 1981. This was nothing more than an online BBS. It can be argued this was the “precursor” to the internet - although running ASCII/ANSI over a Phone line is a FAR CRY from TCP/IP. Would be like saying Morse code was the precursor to 7.1 Audio home theater.

  16. Comment  by charlie

    this will never work.

  17. Comment  by iza

    ‘We are not in it to make money’ :)

  18. Comment  by Ttormey

    lol “were not going to gain a lot of money, but not necessarily lose a lot either.” liesssss

  19. Comment  by not2six

    Sure, in 1981 there was no internet. BUT Compuserve had a good nationwide dialup service that was nearly as good and useful. You could download drivers, find software get support, chat … everything you can do on today’s internet…. without pictures.

  20. Comment  by charles849

    Way before my time seems to be right on I havn’t read a paper in years anybody remember the old Los Angeles herald examiner

  21. Comment  by WmTrader

    This is NOT a news report about the Internet this is a news report about a BBS (Bulletin Board System) that multiple news papers where jointly operating and/or the BBS owner/operator was making available to multiple news papers.

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Added: February 3rd, 2009 at 7:17 am

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Category: Science & Technology