Sunday, October 04, 2020

Mimeographed newsletters 80 years ago foreshadowed today's blogs, with a twist

Michael Waters has an interesting piece in Wired, “Peak Newsletter: That Was 80 Years Ago

The article describes the gradual migration of writers for established newspapers in the 1930s and early 40s (as WWII would start) to do-it-yourself, writing newsletters to individual subscribers, printing them on mimeographs (which had just become available) and mailing them to customers.   

Some of these writers were liberals, favoring unions, objecting to the conservative bias of many of the establishment papers.

Mimeograph machines were what schools used in the 1950s to print final exams on.  I remember them well.  I remember a biology final with a genetics problem printed this way in 1959.

I recall my parents subscribed to a “Kiplinger Washington Letter” on financial predictions for years.

For my own "backyard baseball" league in the summer of 1958, I typed up all the games (and standings) in multiple carbon copies and handed them out to the boys in the neighborhood, a kind of manual blog. 

These newsletters were in a way the predecessors of blogs as they developed in the early 00’s (like “Dooce”).  The difference was, there was no Google then, no search engines, so you had to have your consumers first, and have a real business. 

 By the way, this Wired story may inspire a change to my screenplay.  Stay tuned. 

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