David Shedden

David Shedden is a researcher and the library director at the Poynter Institute. Poynter Online daily feature: Today in Media History http://www.poynter.org/category/media-history/


P-Pod

Today in Media History: Apple’s Steve Jobs introduces the iPod in 2001

The iPod, Apple’s hard disk-based digital audio player, was introduced by Steve Jobs on October 23, 2001.

“‘With iPod, Apple has invented a whole new category of digital music player that lets you put your entire music collection in your pocket and listen to it wherever you go,’ said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. ‘With iPod, listening to music will never be the same again.’”
– An excerpt from the original Apple iPod press release

Screenshot from iPod introduction video, 2001

Screenshot from iPod introduction video, 2001

“Now, with the introduction of the sleek little iPod, a $399 personal digital-music player, Steve has finally built a widget. About the size of a pack of cigarettes, the iPod is more than just a portable sound machine, however. It’s a new kind of gadget that has the potential to change how we think about personal audio-entertainment gizmos, much as Sony’s first pocket-sized transistor radio did in 1958, and the Sony Walkman portable stereo tape player did 20 years later. The progeny of an eight-month crash-development project, the iPod also vividly illustrates how Apple’s engineering and software skills could make it a force to be reckoned with in the consumer electronics business long dominated by leviathans like Sony and Matsushita.”

— “Apple’s 21st-Century Walkman CEO Steve Jobs thinks he has something pretty nifty. And if he’s right, he might even spook Sony and Matsushita”
Fortune Magazine, November 12, 2001

A video of the Steve Jobs iPod introduction:

“Steve Jobs noticed something earlier this year in New York City. ‘I was on Madison,’ says Apple’s CEO, ‘and it was, like, on every block, there was someone with white headphones, and I thought, Oh, my God, it’s starting to happen.’ Jonathan Ive, the company’s design guru, had a similar experience in London: ‘On the streets and coming out of the tubes, you’d see people fiddling with it.’ And Victor Katch, a 59-year-old professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan, saw it in Ann Arbor. ‘When you walk across campus, the ratio seems as high as 2 out of 3 people,’ he says.

They’re talking about the sudden ubiquity of the iPod, the cigarette-box-size digital music player (and its colorful credit-card-size little sister, the Mini) that’s smacked right into the sweet spot where a consumer product becomes something much, much more: an icon, a pet, a status indicator and an indispensable part of one’s life. To 3 million-plus owners, iPods not only give constant access to their entire collection of songs and CDs, but membership into an implicit society that’s transforming the way music will be consumed in the future.”

— “iPod Nation
Newsweek, July 26, 2004

Here is a 2006 Discovery Channel documentary about the iPod. (This clip is part two. Click here to see the rest of the program.)

The iPod era, which began on October 23, 2001, is coming to a close. Recently Mashable posted a story called, “Requiem for an iPod Classic.”

“Amid all the new products it introduced on Tuesday, Apple also quietly but officially retired the iPod classic.

This was more than a little ironic, considering U2′s appearance alongside Tim Cook with a splashy new Apple video that recalled the iPod silhouettes campaign from the mid-2000s. Indeed, the U2 ad feels like an homage to what is still one of the most successful consumer electronics products ever (which also came in a U2 edition).

Although the end of the iPod classic hardly comes as a surprise — Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff wrote a eulogy for the device back in January — we can’t help but greet the reality that Apple has retired its hard disk-based MP3 player lineup with a twinge of sadness.

Sure, the iPod nano, iPod touch and iPod shuffle still exist. But for many of us, the traditional iPod still holds a special place in our heart. It’s not a stretch to say that without the original iPod, Apple as we know it would not exist.”

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P-1962 JFK Speech

Today in Media History: In 1962 President Kennedy announced the discovery of Soviet missiles in Cuba

At 7 p.m. on October 22, 1962, in a televised speech to the nation, President John Kennedy announced the discovery of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.

According to the JFK Library, “for thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited — seemingly on the brink of nuclear war — and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

Screenshot from National Archives film, 1962

Screenshot from National Archives film, 1962

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer remembers the Cuban Missile Crisis:

The following description of Kennedy’s speech comes from the Paley Center. (UPI has posted examples of its original Cuban Missile Crisis stories.)

“After learning that the Cubans, with the aid of the Soviets, were building bases for medium — and intermittent-range ballistic nuclear missiles that would have the capability of reaching most of the United States, President Kennedy requested television time from all three of the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) for 7:00 pm on Monday, October 22. Kennedy was being advised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to destroy the missile sites through airstrikes and invasion, but opted instead for an alternate plan, supported by Robert Kennedy, initiating a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba….

….That Kennedy chose to deliver this message via television rather than through diplomatic channels was part of a deliberate plan to give the ultimatum ‘maximum force,’ according to media historian Erik Barnouw, writing in Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television, his landmark history of the medium. This was particularly important politically because the Bay of Pigs fiasco had left the president vulnerable to charges that he was soft on communism. ‘The televised commitment, relayed throughout the world by satellite, would create a situation from which retreat would appear impossible,’ Barnouw wrote.”

President Kennedy’s October 22, 1962 address to the nation:

Four decades after the event, NPR aired the story, “The Cuban Missile Crisis, 40 Years Later.”

“The world’s closest brush with nuclear war came 40 years ago this month, when the Kennedy administration learned the Soviet Union was preparing to put nuclear missiles in Cuba. For 13 days, the world braced for a holocaust. NPR’s Tom Gjelten continues his series of reports from Havana on a unique conference to discuss the lessons learned in the crisis.”

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P-1962 World's Fair

Today in Media History: Back to the future at the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

October 21, 1962 was the last day to visit the Seattle World’s Fair. In case you missed it, here is a quick look back.

This TV commercial invites us to the fair with the line, “Welcome to the future and all the wonders of the 21st Century.”

The Seattle Times published a special souvenir edition for the World’s Fair in 1962. Fifty years later the newspaper pulled out an old copy and described the fair once again.

“Yes, Seattle was one swaggering city of Space Age superlatives when it put on the 1962 World’s Fair.

The excitement and hype had been building for years when The Seattle Times on April 8, 1962, published a 152-page, six-section souvenir edition dedicated to the World’s Fair. The sections were packed with stories brimming with civic optimism and statements of superiority.

And why not?

This remote outpost in a rainy corner of the country was booming. Seattle was home to Boeing, and the sky was the limit. So build that Space Needle with the rotating restaurant and the flaming top and let the world revolve around it.

And it did for six glorious months.

….It wasn’t all geeky scientific stuff. Seattle came across as a place to have fun and enjoy the natural beauty of the Northwest. Where you can buy a new home with ‘tomorrow’s pleasures and convenience.’

And all you visitors from out of town, you will ‘enjoy pleasant weather…Seattle is seldom hot. The summer sun feels good in Seattle.’

Soaring above everything at the World’s Fair and on the cover of the ‘Space Age Frontiers’ section was the Space Needle with elevators that moved with ‘rocketlike speed’ and a 40-foot ‘crown of flame’ natural-gas torch at the top.”

Seattle Times Image, 1962

Seattle Times Image, 1962

Here is a preview of the 2012 KCTS 9 documentary, “When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World’s Fair.”

“The fair was fun for all and fair for everybody, but all good things must come to an end. On October 21, 1962, 124,479 visitors arrived at the fairgrounds, 13,000 of whom had tickets for the closing ceremonies at Memorial Stadium. President John F. Kennedy was supposed to be there, but aides had called his regrets two days earlier, saying that he had a heavy cold. In actuality, as would be revealed, he was deep into the beginnings of the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

— “Century 21 — The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair
HistoryLink.org

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P-Cronkite-21st Century

Today in Media History: In 1967 Walter Cronkite imagined the future of online news and communications

In addition to anchoring the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite also hosted a documentary series called “The 20th Century” that was succeeded by another program titled, “The 21st Century.” The original show premiered on October 20, 1957.

Here is one of the most interesting segments from these two programs. It aired in 1967. Cronkite imagined the future of online news and the ability to work at home on a “computerized communications console.”

The program, “The 20th Century,” is described in the following excerpt from the Archive of American Television. “The 21st Century” began in 1967, which is when the segment on computerized communications was broadcast.

“From the one-hour premiere episode ‘Churchill, Man of the Century’ (20 October 1957) to its last episode The 20th Century unit produced 112 half-hour historical compilation films and 107 half-hour ‘originally photographed documentaries’ or contemporary documentaries. Narrated by Walter Cronkite, the series achieved critical praise, a substantial audience, and a dedicated sponsor, The Prudential Insurance Company of America, primarily with its historical compilation films. The compilation documentaries combined actuality footage from disparate archival sources — national and international, public and private — with testimony from eyewitnesses, to represent history.”

This is an example of how the “The 20th Century” program usually ended. According to the closing credits, the music was performed by the CBS Orchestra.

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P-1989 Earthquake

Today in Media History: California’s 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake

On October 17, 1989, a powerful California earthquake struck the Bay Area at 5:04 p.m. The Loma Prieta earthquake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale, was the largest Bay Area/San Francisco earthquake since 1906.

The earthquake hit during a TV pregame show just before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series at Candlestick Park.

Screenshot from an NBC news report about the earthquake, October 17, 1989

Screenshot from an NBC news report about the earthquake, October 17, 1989

The San Jose Mercury News was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting about the earthquake. The Oakland Tribune also earned a Pulitzer for its photographs of the quake’s devastation.

Here is an excerpt from a Mercury News story:

“The biggest earthquake since 1906 — 7 on the Richter scale and possibly higher — hit the Bay Area at 5:04 p.m. Tuesday, killing at least 76 people, injuring more than 460, setting off fires in San Francisco and sending buildings, highways and bridges crashing down on people and cars across the region.

The quake, centered in the Santa Cruz Mountains, lasted from 20 to 40 seconds and frightened millions from Ukiah to San Diego. It was as strong as the quake that ravaged much of Soviet Armenia in December.

….Between 40,000 and 50,000 baseball fans calmly evacuated Candlestick Park, about a half-hour before Game 3 of the World Series — even taking with them souvenir chunks of concrete that had fallen from the stadium. The series was delayed indefinitely while officials tried to assess the damage to Candlestick and the Oakland Coliseum.

As many as a million people from Hollister to San Francisco were without power in the hours after the quake and well into the night as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews scrambled to repair lines. Much of San Francisco remained enveloped in darkness at midnight.”

TV news reports about the earthquake from ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN:

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P-1914 War News

Today in Media History: War news from 100 years ago today

The war in Europe was in the news 100 years ago today, especially the sinking of the HMS Hawke by a German submarine.

New York Evening World, October 16, 1914

New York Evening World, October 16, 1914

Bryan (Texas) Daily Eagle and Pilot, October 16, 1914

Bryan (Texas) Daily Eagle and Pilot, October 16, 1914

Other war news from a century ago:

“The past week of the western campaign has seen the most decisive fighting since the Battle of the Marne….Russia must have by now at least 2,600,000 men in the field and the Austro-German forces can hardly exceed 2,000,000. However, numbers alone will not decide the issue; the efficiency of the artillery, cavalry and aerial scouting will play a far larger part in the final result.”

Yale Daily News
October 16, 1914

"Fighting in Belgium," American Press Association / Yale Daily News Image

“Fighting in Belgium,” American Press Association / Yale Daily News Image

The following silent newsreel is filled with many French and Belgian military images from the October 1914 Battle of the Yser.

As important as it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if some newsreel viewers were mostly interested in the little puppy at the end of the film.

A hundred years ago, like today, it is often the small stories that people connect with and remember.

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P-Murrow Speech

Today in Media History: Edward R. Murrow challenged the broadcast industry in his 1958 RTNDA speech

On October 15, 1958, in a speech to the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) convention in Chicago, CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow challenged the broadcast industry to live up to its potential and responsibilities. The speech is often remembered for these words:

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box….”

Parts of the speech were recreated in the movie, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

In a story titled, “50 Years Later, Murrow Speech Sparks Debate Over Journalists as Reformers,” Poynter’s Al Tompkins writes:

“Murrow took on subjects that were tough to report. In his 1958 speech, he mentioned a documentary on Egypt and Israel, the dangers of smoking, radioactive fallout from nuclear tests; he knew he was going to cause a lot of discomfort. He scolded network executives for losing their nerve. He suggested that big sponsors give up their highly viewed entertainment shows once in a while in favor of an occasional program that would serve the public.

And he spoke directly to the news directors, urging them to stiffen their spines and have confidence that if they covered stories of significance, the public would listen and watch.”

Screenshot from Murrow’s “See It Now” television program

Screenshot from Murrow’s “See It Now” television program

Following are some excerpts from the speech. The transcript comes from the RTDNA (formally RTNDA) website.

“This just might do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest, and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous thoughts. But the elaborate structure of networks, advertising agencies and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television. I have no technical advice or counsel to offer those of you who labor in this vineyard that produces words and pictures. You will forgive me for not telling you that instruments with which you work are miraculous, that your responsibility is unprecedented or that your aspirations are frequently frustrated. It is not necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these things you know.

….Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. I invite your attention to the television schedules of all networks between the hours of 8 and 11 p.m., Eastern Time. Here you will find only fleeting and spasmodic reference to the fact that this nation is in mortal danger. There are, it is true, occasional informative programs presented in that intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons. But during the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live.

….It may be that the present system, with no modifications and no experiments, can survive….We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

….I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.

We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small fraction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure would grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure — exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.

To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box….”

Here is a link, courtesy of RTDNA and KYW-AM, to audio of the original Edward R. Murrow speech. Read more

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P- Kodak Camera

Today in Media History: Do you remember the first photo you ever took? This event in 1884 helped make it possible

Do you remember the first photo you ever took?

The history of experimental and professional photography can be traced back to the 1820s, but personal photography wouldn’t begin until the late 19th century.

On October 14, 1884, George Eastman received a patent for roll camera film, which became the basis for his popular Kodak box camera in 1888.

That little box, and all the personal cameras leading up to our digital phones today, have shared images and memories for more than 125 years.

“For Eastman, the 1880s was a dynamic decade. In 1884, he hired William Hall Walker, a camera inventor and manufacturer, and together they designed the Eastman-Walker Roll Holder, which allowed photographers to advance paper film through a camera rather than handle individual plates. The roll holder came to define the basic technology of cameras until the introduction of digital photography in the late twentieth century. More immediately, it became the basis for the first Kodak camera, initially known as the ‘roll holder breast camera.’”

— “The Wizard of Photography
PBS, The American Experience

Kodak box camera, National Museum of American History Image

Kodak box camera, National Museum of American History Image

“Previous to Eastman’s invention, photography was an expensive, cumbersome and messy hobby. Cameras were enormous and the wet film required processing straight away.

In September 1888, New York-based Eastman registered the made-up brand name ‘Kodak’ and offered the first branded camera, a handheld box-shaped model sold with the promise, ‘You press the button – we do the rest.’

Further developments during the rest of the century and into the 1900s saw Kodak film improve, cameras get smaller and easier to use and the brand grow into one synonymous with the new medium of snapshot photography.”

— “A Brief History of Kodak, American Tech Icon
Mashable, January 2012

Here is a look back at some historic photos going back to 1826, some of which were awarded Pulitzer Prizes for excellence in photojournalism.

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P-Netscape Navigator

Today in Media History: The first commercial Web browser, Netscape Navigator, is released in 1994

The Web became a little more accessible and commercial on October 13, 1994 when the Netscape Navigator browser was released by the Mosaic (later Netscape) Corporation. Before Microsoft’s Internet Explorer became the dominant browser, Netscape Navigator was the most popular way to connect to the Web.

The source code history of Netscape Navigator began with the NCSA Mosaic browser and continues today with Mozilla Firefox.

Institut für Gestaltungs- und Wirkungsforschung Image

Institut für Gestaltungs- und Wirkungsforschung Image

Here is an excerpt from the original news release:

Mosaic Communications Corporation today announced that it is offering its newly introduced Netscape network navigator free to users via the Internet. The new Internet navigator, developed by the six-month-old Silicon Valley company led by Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark and NCSA Mosaic creator Marc Andreessen, is available immediately for free downloading by individual, academic and research users.

…. ‘Netscape is the first Internet tool that lets the average user with a 14.4 kb modem work with the Internet interactively,’ said Todd Haedrich, principal of Point of Presence Company in Seattle. ‘It’s fast, simple and elegant. The resources that Mosaic Communications provides for its novice users in Netscape, such as the Internet directories, rival any other site on the net for their quality and depth. Netscape will help bring more people on the Internet than any program since the original NCSA Mosaic.’”

Mosaic Communications Corporation Image, 1994

Mosaic Communications Corporation Image, 1994

The following comes from the 2007 TechCrunch article, “A Sad Milestone: AOL To Discontinue Netscape Browser Development.”

“Please observe a moment of silence for the Netscape browser. Netscape Navigator, the browser that launched the commercial Internet in October 1994, will die on February 1, 2008. AOL, which acquired Netscape in November 1998 for $4.2 billion, will announce today that they will discontinue development of the browser, currently on version 9.

….In an email exchange yesterday with Tom Drapeau, Director of AOL/Netscape development, he said that only a handful of AOL engineers are still tasked with keeping the browser updated. Most of their efforts have been aimed at creating a Netscape-skinned version of Firefox with the Netscape look and feel.

….AOL is also setting up a Netscape Archive where users will be able to download old versions of Netscape, without any support.

I sadly place the first browser I ever used into the TechCrunch DeadPool.”

And finally, a look back at the early days of the Mosaic and Netscape browsers.

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P-Citizen Kane-2

Today in Media History: Remembering Citizen Kane

When Orson Welles died on October 10, 1985, I’m sure a few journalists paused for a moment, whispered the word “Rosebud,” and remembered his film “Citizen Kane.”

An excerpt from a 1998 review by Roger Ebert:

“The origins of ‘Citizen Kane’ are well known. Orson Welles, the boy wonder of radio and stage, was given freedom by RKO Radio Pictures to make any picture he wished. Herman Mankiewicz, an experienced screenwriter, collaborated with him on a screenplay originally called ‘The American.’ Its inspiration was the life of William Randolph Hearst, who had put together an empire of newspapers, radio stations, magazines and news services, and then built to himself the flamboyant monument of San Simeon, a castle furnished by rummaging the remains of nations. Hearst was Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates rolled up into an enigma.

…. ‘Citizen Kane’ knows the sled is not the answer. It explains what Rosebud is, but not what Rosebud means. The film’s construction shows how our lives, after we are gone, survive only in the memories of others, and those memories butt up against the walls we erect and the roles we play.”

The following description of the film’s ending comes from the American Film Institute:

“Still as ignorant of the significance of Kane’s dying word as when he started, Thompson prepares to leave Xanadu with the other reporters and photographers. Passing through rooms where Kane’s possessions are being inventoried and crated, Thompson is now convinced that even if he had learned the meaning of Rosebud, it would not have explained the man. Unnoticed among the boxes and crates is an old child’s sled. As a workman throws the sled into a furnace, the word Rosebud, painted across the top, is consumed by the flames.”

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