1981 TV Report about Online Newspapers

I love this 1981 news segment about how some people were dialing in to CompuServe to read newspapers on their home computers. According to the report, it took two hours to download the paper at a cost of $5 per hour, and had everything the print edition had, with the (major) exception of pictures, ads and the comics.

They show a print ad about the new service, with the headline “Now, a world of information at your fingertips. Now.” The ad shows a computer with the full front page displayed on the monitor, presumably as a metaphor, and the report notes that “the electronic newspaper isn’t as spiffy-looking as the ads imply.”

Mr. Halloran, the home user interviewed in this piece, notes that he can go back in and copy articles to paper and save them, which he thinks is the “the future of the type of interrogation an individual will give to the newspapers.” An awkward way to put it, but he was talking about the power of search, and he was right.

This pieces is wonderfully nostalgic, for those of us of a certain age, showing the old home computer with the plain ASCII screen display, the acoustic coupler with the telephone handset jammed into it, and most importantly, the sense of excitement of the early adopters.

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