In 1981, It Would Take You Two Hours To Download 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 were participating in a virtual newspaper distribution project deployed by CompuServe, an early online services network. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle were among the widely read newspapers that participated.
The process of downloading the newspaper over a 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 without pictures, comics, or ads, being downloaded and arriving at roughly the same speed that a person could read it.
The project ended after about a year and, short-lived or not, it heavily foreshadowed a future where the news would be largely digital, on-demand, and delivered right to the reader.