Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Media Evolution

I recently found this year-by-year timeline that looks at the history of new media and online journalism from 1969 to 2010. It was compiled by David Shedden, Library Director of the Poynter Institute's Eugene Patterson Library (a largely online school dedicated to serving journalism in the interest of democracy). Interestingly, the timeline is presented it in two parts, with parallel sections on the "Technology/Services/Social" developments and "The Media" developments. The goal of the timeline is to preserve the history of new media and online journalism, "a history that actually isn't very new after all," according to the site.

I was specifically interested in what aspects of new media they date back to 1969. Turns out, the scene was very much being set for new media's introduction.

  • An experimental network of four computers called ARPANET is commissioned by the U.S. government. The four computers are located at Stanford, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah. The first tests are run at the UCLA facility in September 1969. In October, the second ARPANET node is connected at Stanford. UC Santa Barbara is connected in November and the University of Utah comes online in December. (ARPANET will evolve during the 1970s into a network of computer networks commonly known as the Internet.)
  • The Bolt, Beranek and Newman company (BBN) modifies a group of Honeywell computers to act as interface message processors (IMPs) for the ARPANET network.
  • The Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry systems company (MITS) is established. This small electronics hobby-kit company will eventually offer computer calculator kits, and in 1975 the Altair 8080, the first successful personal computer.

  • "Part one of a 1969 British film about computers." Posted on YouTube. (See also: Part 2 and Part 3 of the film.)
  • The Intel company, which was founded in 1968, produces a 1,024-bit RAM computer memory chip.
  • October 17, 1969 -- Honeywell's $10,000 "Kitchen Computer" (H316 Pedestal model) is scheduled to be introduced on the NBC Today Show. However, the segment is replaced by a story about the New York Mets, who had just won the World Series.


  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) tests a new interactive media format called videotex. This computerized, interactive system transmits text and graphics. The British system requires the use of a telephone, a modified television set and keyboard. The generic term videotex includes computer communications services such as teletext and viewdata. (During the 1970s and early 1980s videotex will develop into an unsuccessful new media and online journalism format. Although videotex will ultimately fail, it lays the foundation for new media ventures of the 1990s.)
  • The CompuServe computer time-sharing service is founded. (CompuServe will play an important role in the development of online communication.)
  • The New York Times Information Bank is created. Infobank is an electronic collection of New York Times story abstracts. (During the 1970s Infobank will grow into a full-text commercial online database service. It is from early newspaper database services like Infobank that online library archives will develop in the 1990s.)
  • News Example:
    July 21, 1969 --
    "Men Walk on Moon,"
    New York Times.
    (Abstract available from
    the Infobank database service.)

1 comment:

  1. There is what some term a prehistory of the internet, and it is pretty fascinating!