Geek Trivia

In 1981 It Would Take You Two Hours To Download What?

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The Morning Paper
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The USS Enterprise, Of Star Trek Fame, Was Originally Known As What?

Answer: The Morning Paper

We take instant internet-delivered news for granted these days, but decades ago the idea of electronically delivered news was new, very novel, and extremely slow. In 1981, a group of newspapers around the world participated in a project deployed by CompuServe: a virtual newspaper distribution network. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle were among the widely read newspapers that participated.

The process of downloading the newspaper over a 300 baud modem to early computers was very slow (downloading the entire weekday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, for example, would take around two hours, others could take up to six hours). As agonizingly slow as that seems to us in the present, the material was presented teletype style, as it was downloaded and it arrived at roughly the speed you could read it.

The project was designed to last one year and ended in the spring of 1982. Short lived or not, it was a project that heavily foreshadowed the future where news would be largely digital, on demand, and delivered right to the reader.

Image courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.