A chronology of media eventsA chronology of media events
This Chronology is drawn from many sources, but our best thanks go to Patrick Robertson whose The New Shell Book of Firsts (Headline, 1994), a remarkable piece of historical detective work, has been immensely helpful. UK is used in a generalized sense as a composite reference to England, Britain and the United Kingdom.AD 105
Paper produced from pulp; invention attributed to Ts'ai Lun, China.AD 704
First printed book, the Dharani Sutra, created in Korea from woodblocks on a scroll, and discovered in the foundations of the Pulguk Sa pagoda in Kyongju, South Korea, October 1966.1174
First evidence of woodblock printing in Europe, by Benedictine monks at Engelberg, Switzerland, used to print capital letters in illuminated manuscripts.1234
Compendium of Rites and Rituals, first book printed using movable type comprising 50 chapters, 28 copies of which were published in Korea. The type was made using a sand-moulding technique developed in 1102 for casting coins.1451
Donatis Latin Grammar, two leaves of a 27-line publication, the first evidence of the use of movable type in Europe, possibly the same type as that used by John of Gutenberg in his 42-line Bible believed to have been printed at Mainz between 1451 and 1454, 48 copies of which survive, 36 printed on paper, 12 on vellum.1454
Gutenberg prints the first calendar.1461
Albrecht Pfister of Bamberg publishes the first books in the vernacular: Ulrich Boner's Edelstein and Johann von Tepl's Ackermann aus Böhmen.1474
In Bruges, the Englishman William Caxton publishes The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, a translation from original French text. Caxton moved to London where he printed in 1477 The Dictes and Sayengis of the Philosophres, a work of 74 leaves ‘drawn out of frensche into our Englisshe tonge’ by Anthony Earl Rivers.1475
Jodocus Pflanzmann of Augsburg prints the first illustrated Bible.1484
Caxton prints Morte D'Arthur.1494
John Tate of Stevenage is the first to manufacture paper in England. Tate produced the first-known watermark in the UK – a star and circle.1513
Nicolo Machiavelli's The Prince published.1517
Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses, protesting against the sale of indulgences, on the church door at Wittenberg. The printing and distribution of his works ignites the Reformation, and the division of Europe between Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths.1526
William Tyndale's translation of the New Testament into English is published by Peter Schoeffer in Worms, Germany.1527
Leipzig: printer Hanz Hergot executed for twice publishing On the New Direction of Christian Life, a pamphlet advocating common ownership of land and goods.1536
Myles Coverdale's complete translation of the Bible into English published, probably in Cologne. This was printed in London by James Nicholson the following year.1559
Roman Catholic church promulgates the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of prohibited books; and in 1571 the Index Expurgatoris, of books permitted after censorship.1588
Dr Timothy Bright introduces the first recorded system of shorthand. His system appeared under the title Characterie; the art of short, swift, and secret writing.1608
The civil authorities of Norwich open the first municipal public library, chiefly for ‘the use of preachers’. In 1656 Chetham's Library in Manchester became the first to employ a librarian. Chetham's was open to all. As late as 1849 it remained the only substantial collection of books fully accessible to the public. Manchester also took the lead with the lending of books. In 1852 the Manchester Free Library instituted a lending system, issuing over 70,000 books in its first year. This followed the Public Libraries Act of 1850.1611
Issue in the UK of the Authorized Version of the Bible (called the King James Version), the composite work of 46 translators and revisers.1619
State of Weimar becomes the first to introduce compulsory education for all between the ages of 6 and 13. In the UK similar legislation had to wait until 1870.1621
First Corantos published in London, followed in same year by first Proclamation against Corantos.1637
Star Chamber Decree regulating printing, followed in 1643 with Ordinance for regulating printing, and in 1649 the first Printing Act.1642
The Mayflower arrives in America from Plymouth, England, with a printing press on board.1644
Publication of John Milton's Areopagitica presenting the case for the freedom of the press.1649
UK: Charles I beheaded. During the period in power of the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, and until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, under Charles II, England becomes a hotbed of radical, chiefly religious, publications. John Lilburne issues England's New Chaines Discovered.1650
At Leipzig, the first daily newspaper, the Einkommenden Zeitungen, is published by Timotheus Ritzsch. In the UK the Perfect Diurnall was published daily, except Sunday, between February and March 1660, though British readers had to wait till 1702 for the first successful daily, the Daily Courant.1651
Publication of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.1657
First classified advertisement in a UK paper printed in Thomas Newcombe's Publick Advertiser, the first English paper devoted entirely to advertising.1660–1
Parliament prohibits publication of its proceedings.1680
Royal Proclamation suppressing all newsbooks except those under licence from the authorities.1693
In UK, the City Mercury is the first giveaway newspaper.
• London bookseller John Dunton issues the first women's magazine, the Ladies’ Mercury.1695
Parliament does not renew the Licensing Act.1701
First provincial newspaper in the UK, the Norwich Post, a weekly, with an approximate circulation of 400–500 copies.1702
First daily newspaper in Britain, the Daily Courant, is published in London.1704
John Campbell publishes Boston Newsletter, the first newspaper in the US not to be a one-issue failure.1709
English Copyright Act, the first enactment to secure the rights of authors and publishers by offering legal protection against ‘pirating’ of texts. A similar act was passed in France in 1793 and in the Grand Duchy of Saxe-Weimar in 1839 (the first to employ the 30-year term of protection after an author's death). The principle of international reciprocity of rights was established in the Berne Convention of 1886.1712
In Britain, first ‘Taxes on Knowledge’ introduced – duties on newspapers and advertising and excise duty on paper.1720s
Benjamin Franklin begins successful publishing career with Pennsylvania Gazette.1725
Stamp Act in Britain applies 1712 regulations to all newspapers, whatever their size or format.1739
Scotsman William Ged devises method of preserving pages of type for future reprints, using a mould made from plaster of Paris from which metal plates were made. In fear of their livelihoods, Scottish printers wrecked the invention; 60 years later it was revived by Firmin Didot who reversed the process by creating the metal plate from sunken surfaces. Eventually stereotyping, as the process came to be known, was made a commercial proposition by amateur inventor Lord Stanhope, in 1805, at the Clarendon Press, Oxford.
• In 1829 the plaster and metal plates gave way to papier mâché, reducing time, weight and bulk – innovations happening at virtually the same time in Italy, France and England. Stanhope also improved the printing press by replacing the wooden press with an iron structure and by increasing the bed of the machine in order to produce one-pull larger-scale sheets.1741
First magazines, in US, Andrew Bradford's American Magazine, followed by Benjamin Franklin's General Magazine.1757
UK: increases in taxes on newspapers; increased again in 1776, 1780, 1789 (the year of the French Revolution), 1797 and 1815.1764
London: prosecution of firebrand editor/journalist John Wilkes for seditious libel published in the North Briton.1770s
Thomas Paine in America. His Common Sense (1776), arguing powerfully for the separation of the States from English rule, will prove an immensely influential bestseller.1771
Press permitted to report the proceedings of the House of Commons, followed by those of the House of Lords (in 1775).
• The Morning Post published in London.1776
Publication of Adam Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
• Publication of Tom Paine's Common Sense: Addressed to the Inhabitants of America, a summons to the people of America to rise up in battle and overthrow British rule. As one English historian believed: ‘It would be difficult to name any human composition which had an effect at once so instant, so extended, and so lasting.’ 120,000 copies of Common Sense were sold within three months of publication.1780
UK: first Sunday newspaper published – the British Gazette and Sunday Monitor.1785
Founding of The Times newspaper followed by the Observer in 1791.
• Paris: fortnightly Le Cabinet des Modes is published, the first fashion magazine.1787
First recorded advertising agency formed in London by William Tayler, who for a handling fee booked advertisements in the provincial press.1788
UK: publication of first daily evening newspaper – Star and Evening Advertiser.1789
Revolution in France: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens is promulgated 27 July; the key to this being the notion of popular sovereignty. The principles of the Revolution were to be an inspiration to radicalism in Britain and a guiding light of the Radical press.
• In turn events in France provoked the authorities in Britain to take repressive measures against the Radicals and the causes they advocated.1790
Orator and conservative theorist Edmund Burke publishes Reflections on the Revolution in France condemning the uprising of the common people.1791
Tom Paine's The Rights of Man Part 1 published, a stirringly eloquent riposte to Burke's Reflections.
• English philosopher Jeremy Bentham designs a ‘panopticon’, (the all-seeing one) for the central inspection of convicts; an idea given new life in the twentieth century in an age of electronic surveillance.
• First Amendment to the American Bill of Rights guarantees the freedom of the press.1792
First Libel Act becomes law in Britain.
• Part 2 of Tom Paine's Rights of Man published. Also Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women, demanding equal educational opportunities for women.1793
John Bell, Yorkshire-born founder of the Oracle or Bell's New World becomes the first-ever foreign correspondent, reporting to his own paper the fighting between the British and French in the Low Countries. He chose to march with the French rather than with the forces of the Duke of York. He reported on the British victories at Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Villiers-en-Cauche and Troixelle as well as the defeat at Tournay. His example was emulated by The Times in 1808 when Henry Crabb Robinson was commissioned to cover the Peninsular War.1798
France, at the Essonne mill: Nicolas Robert introduces the first paper manufacturing machine; the first in England established at Frogmore, Hertfordshire, in 1805 by brothers Henry and Sealy Fourdriner, and at St Neots, Huntingdonshire, by John Gamble. Paper output increased tenfold.
• Prime Minister William Pitt increases the tax on British newspapers from 1½ pence to 2½ pence and bans the import into the UK of foreign newspapers.1800
Bavarian Alois Senefelder takes out English patent for lithographic process, printing from the surface of a specially prepared stone. Photography is incorporated into the printed page, using lithography, from 1840.1802
Founding of the Weekly Political Register by William Cobbett, one of the outstanding journalist/editors of the nineteenth century. Paper survives until 1835.1805
Lord Stanhope's improved stereotyping machine set up at Oxford's Clarendon Press.1811
Thomas Bensley makes first use in the UK of the Frederick Koenig steam-driven press to print in London 3000 sheets of the Annual Register.1814
The Times installs the Koenig press, the most significant technological advance in printing since the age of Gutenberg. The steam-driven press made mass production of newspapers a reality and, in the company of other inventions in paper manufacture and stereotyping, ushered in the first age of mass communication. The initial run was 1100 sheets per hour. The first book to be printed on the power press in the UK was Johann Blumenbach's Physiology, in 1817.1821
In Britain, the Six Acts passed, including two targeting the radical press.
• Manchester Guardian founded.1822
Invention of the camera by Frenchman Joseph Nièpce who produced the first photograph (1826). Also in 1822, William Church's letter-founding machine makes for reductions in production costs. Hand-assembly could cast between 3,000 and 7,000 letters a day, Church's machine between 12,000 and 20,000.
• Sunday Times founded.1826
Leipzig publisher F.A. Brockhaus applies Koenig's steam press to the printing of books.
• First permanently fixed photograph created by Nicéphore Nièpce. This was taken from an upper storey at Nièpce's home at Gras, Chalon-sur-Saône.1829
Four-cylinder steam press, invented by Augustus Applegarth and Edward Cowper for The Times, speeds the delivery of print, allowing 4,000 sheets per hour. The same inventors follow this up in 1848 with the rotary press, which printed 8,000 sheets per hour.1830s
UK: the ‘War of the Unstamped’ waged by the radical, unstamped press against the Taxes on Knowledge.1831–5
Publication of Henry Hetherington's Poor Man's Guardian, one of the outstanding radical papers of the nineteenth century.1832
W.E. Weber and K.F. Gauss construct the needle telegraph in Grottingen.
• The Penny Magazine of London becomes the first mass-circulation paper selling over 100,000 copies.1833
Advertising Duty reduced, followed in 1836 with the reduction of Stamp Duty and Excise Duty on paper. It was not until 1853 that Advertising Duty was abolished. 1855 saw the abolition of Stamp Duty and 1861 Paper Duties.
• US: New York Sun, concentrating on stories of sex and violence, published by Benjamin Day. This was followed in 1835 by the New York Herald, published by John Gordon Bennett, with specific pages dedicated to sport and finance.1835
Henry Fox-Talbot, British pioneer in the development of photography, publishes a description in the February edition of the Literary Gazette of the positive–negative process, which would enable the reproduction of photographs in any number.
• Fox-Talbot's work coincided with that of the Frenchman Louis Daguerre, who was the first to commercially exploit photography. The Daguerrotype used only the one-off positive, but it advanced exposure time from eight hours to only 15 to 30 minutes. The French government acquired the rights from Daguerre and Isidor Nièpce, heir of Nicéphore Nièpce (died 1833) who had gone into business with Daguerre. Thus the process became public property for all to use. Daguerre's own cameras were on sale before the end of the year.1836
US: Samuel Morse builds his first telegraph.1838
The Times of India founded.
• Publication of the radical Northern Star (until 1852).1839
In Paris, Alphonse Giroux manufactures for sale the first Daguerrotype camera.1842
Illustrated London News is founded.
• Samuel Morse lays first submarine telegraph cable, New York Harbour.1843
Giuseppe Mazzini obtains patent for a composing machine, though the idea had originated as early as 1682 with Johann Joachim Becher, a political economist.
• Though some 1500 patents had by 1900 been registered in the US for composing machines those invented by Robert Hattersley and Charles Kastenbein dominated. With each, the chief problem was the need to justify the lines by hand, a problem resolved by Linotype and Monotype machines, and the punch-cutting machine of Linn Boyd Benton of Milwaukee in 1885.
• A Saxon weaver, Friedrich Gottleb Keller, produces paper from wood pulp, another innovation suggested much earlier but not developed or taken up.
• The first public telegraph service is introduced following the completion of the Great Western Railway telegraph line from Paddington to Slough. William Cooke who had patented the system transferred the licence, for an annual fee, to Thomas Home and the first paid telegrams were sent by Cooke's double-needle electro-magnetic telegraph along a 20-mile wire. Eventually the Electric Telegraph Company took up the licence and pioneered nationwide telegraphy. By 1847 two systems, north and south, were in operation, linking major towns and cities. Unification of the regions took place in November.
• Foundation of the News of the World, the Economist and, in Newcastle, the Miners’ Journal.1844
Transmission of the first press telegram, from a Congress reporter in Washington DC to the editor of the Baltimore Patriot, by Morse telegraph. In the UK the first press telegraph was sent in the same year, from Windsor Castle to The Times via the Slough-Paddington telegraph, announcing the birth of Prince Alfred to Queen Victoria.
• William Fox-Talbot's The Pencil of Nature is the first book in the UK to be published with photographs. This was issued by Longman in six parts.
• Society of Women Journalists founded in London.1846
London: Daily News founded, with Charles Dickens (briefly) as editor.1847–8
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels produce The Communist Manifesto. Having settled in the UK Marx produced his monumental work, Das Kapital (Capital) in 1859.
• Paris: the photographic journal Le Daguerrotype published.1848
In Havana, Cuba, Italian Antonio Meucci creates instrument with which he communicates between apartment floors with his invalid wife. However, it is 1860 before there is a public demonstration of the telephone, by Johann Philipp Reis of Germany, using a violin-case for a resonator, a hollowed-out beer-barrel bung for a mouthpiece and a stretched sausage skin for a diaphragm. In 1861 Reis demonstrated an improved version to the Frankfurt Physical Society, transmitting verses and songs – albeit with very poor clarity – over a 300-foot line.
• The editor of the UK Morning Chronicle employs Eliza Lyn Linton to write features and reviews. She later became the paper's Paris correspondent. On her return to the UK she became Fleet Street's first-ever full-time woman journalist. She became known for her antipathy to women's suffrage.1850
UK: Public Libraries Act.
• Philadelphia: Frederick Langenheim patents first photographic slides.1852
J.W. Brett lays first submarine telegraph cable between Dover and Calais.
• UK: House of Commons Press Gallery opens.
• Surgeon John MacCosh is first British war photographer; 47 studies survive of his photo-coverage of the Second Burma War.1853
Liverpool: the Northern Daily Times becomes England's first daily provincial paper.1854
Paris: Le Figaro founded.1855
Englishman Alexander Parkes invents celluloid.
• Foundation of the Daily Telegraph.
• In UK, newspaper tax abolished.1858
First transatlantic telegram sent by John Cash, American name-tape manufacturer, from London to his New York representative. At £1 a word, it read: ‘Go to Chicago’.1860
Antonio Meucci demonstrates, in New York, his ‘telefono’ but has insufficient funds to patent his invention. Only in 2002 was he acknowledged, by the US House of Representatives, as the true originator of the telephone (rather than Alexander Graham Bell who had access to Meucci's materials and had shared a laboratory with him). However, it was Bell who patented a version of Meucci's device in 1876.1865
Father Giovanni Caselli developed the first fax machine between 1857 and 1864. It was introduced for public service over the Paris-Lyons telegraph line in May 1865. However, the first office fax did not become commercially available until the Xerox LDX was demonstrated in the company's showroom in New York, May 1964. The Japanese firm Sharp introduced the first colour fax in 1984.1866
Mahloon Loomis of Washington DC, having described a system of radio signalling in a paper of July 1866, succeeds in October in broadcasting messages over a 14-mile distance. He was granted the world's first wireless patent in 1872. Lack of funds in a period of recession prevented Loomis developing radio commercially before his death in 1886. In the UK David Edward Hughes proved a significant pioneer into the phenomenon of radio waves, but he met with little encouragement. It was left to Heinrich Hertz, the German electrical scientist, to convince the scientific community of the existence and significance of radio waves, thus making possible the development of radio telegraphy and broadcasting.1867
Invention of the typewriter by American Christopher Sholes.1868
London, Press Association founded.
• New York: Staats Zeitung first newspaper to be printed on wood-pulp paper.1870
UK: Education Act inaugurates systematic primary school education for all.1870–1
Jessie White Mario becomes world's first woman war correspondent, covering the Franco-Prussian War for several US and British papers.1872
Issue of first illustrated daily newspaper, the New York Daily Graphic.1873
The New York Daily Graphic is first to publish a half-tone photograph, 2 December – an illustration of the city's Steinway Hall appeared on the back page.1874
American writer Mark Twain becomes the first author to possess a typewriter – made by Remington. By 1890 in the US there were 30 manufacturers producing typewriters. In the UK none were on sale until 1889, from the Maskelyne British Typewriter & Manufacturing Company.
• In the same year George C. Blickensderfer's Connecticut company produced the first portable, the Blick. The introduction of the typewriter into business created new employment opportunities for women.1876
Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell successfully initiates telephonic communication. Bell, of Edinburgh, patented the telephone on 9 March, and on 10 March, in Boston, US, the first truly coherent transmission took place – a message from Bell to his assistant, Thomas Watson: ‘Come here, Watson, I want you.’ The speaking telephone was demonstrated by Bell at the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 25 June. In July of the following year the first telephone line between two separate buildings was laid, in London, between the Queen's Theatre and Canterbury Hall. In the same year the first telephone exchange was created on behalf of the New England Telephone Company by Isaac D. Smith.1877
Thomas Alva Edison of America patents the Phonograph, the first sound-recording system. The prototype being completed by Edison's mechanic, John Kruesi at West Orange, New Jersey, on 6 December, Edison proceeded to make history by reciting into the recording apparatus, ‘Mary had a little lamb’. The Edison Speaking Phonograph Company began production in April 1879. The tin-foil cylinder provided so short a duration that public interest in the Phonograph declined.
• The wax-cylinder Graphaphone developed by Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter was patented in 1886, to be countered by Edison, his interest in recording renewed, with the Improved Phonograph. Edison Laboratories were the first to record music by an accredited musician, the boy pianist Josef Hofman, in 1888. There was no means of duplicating wax discs before 1892.1878
The microphone, demonstrated in London by Professor David Edward Hughes.1880
The Radiophone, devised by Charles Sumner Tainter and Alexander Graham Bell, successfully transmits speech between the top of Franklin School, Washington DC, and Bell's laboratory on 14th Street.
• Telephony without wires had been the invention of A.C. Brown of the Eastern Telegraph Company two years earlier. Reginald Fessenden produced the first conventional system of radio telephony capable of transmitting speech across distances regardless of obstacles between transmitter and receiver. He demonstrated his system for the first time, over a distance of a mile, 23 December 1900. His words were addressed to his assistant, ‘Is it snowing where you are, Mr Thiessen?’
• In UK Titbits founded, followed in 1888 by Answers – two immensely popular weeklies.1883
In US, Joseph Pulitzer starts up the New York World.1884
Lewis Waterman in the US creates the first fountain pen.1885
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince, French-born but living in the US, projects the first moving pictures – on to a wall at the Institute for the Deaf, New York, applying in November 1996 for an American patent for an ‘Apparatus for producing Animated Pictures’. This was granted in January 1888 but reference to cameras and projectors was disallowed because of Dumont's British patent of 1861 (though this involved an arrangement of glass plates to form the facets of a prismatic drum and had nothing to do with the reproduction of moving images on a screen).
• On the point of going into commercial production in 1890, Le Prince boarded a train in Dijon, bound for Paris where it was his intention to demonstrate his invention to the secretary of the Paris Opera. He – and his apparatus – disappeared; a mystery that remains unsolved.1886
New York Herald Tribune installs the first Linotype machine, the invention of Ottmar Margenthaler.
• Paris: Le Petit Journal becomes first paper to reach 1 million circulation.1887
German Emile Berliner working in the US applies for a patent for the first gramophone or disc-recorder player. He demonstrated his invention at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in the following year. The hand-cranked gramophone was initially produced as a toy by Kammerer & Rheinhardt, Germany, using a five-inch vulcanized rubber disc at an approximate speed of 70rpm. Electrically operated machines were marketed by the United States Gramophone Company in Washington in 1894, using seven-inch records.
• First overseas edition of a newspaper – New York Herald in Paris.
• The Berliner Gramophone Company of Philadelphia produced the first shellac records in 1897. This company was also the first to create a recording studio and record shop. Double-sided discs were first manufactured in 1904 by the International Talking Machine Company, Germany, under the imprint Odeon Records.
• San Francisco: William Randoph Hearst takes command of his father's paper, the Examiner, initiating a career as press baron to out-rival and out-live all his contemporaries. In 1895 he bought the New York Journal, which became the star and exemplar of Yellow Journalism.
• Also in 1887, monotype printing invented in the US by Tolbert Lanston. Commercially established by 1897, the Monotype had the advantage over Linotype in that it cast each letter separately instead of in a compact line, thus making it easier to correct the text.1888
George Eastman of Rochester, New York, produced the first snapshot camera – the Kodak – for use by the general public. This used pre-loaded paper-roll film. It took 100 circular pictures 2.5 inches in diameter. Mass produced by the Eastman Company, Kodak No. 1 proved an immediate success in the US and worldwide.
• In the same year John Carbutt of Philadelphia introduced celluoid film. This was made from celluloid sheets one-hundredth of an inch thick, and obtained from the Celluloid Manufacturing Company. However, the first celluloid roll film to be manufactured commercially was another Eastman coup. The Eastman Dry Plate Company produced roll film for its Kodak cameras, beginning in August 1889. The first colour roll film came much later, and was invented by Robert Krayn in Germany in 1910. Amateurs had a longer wait – until Kodrachrome produced three-colour roll film in 1936.
• UK: Financial Times founded.1889
UK's first Official Secrets Act.
• Kansas City undertaker Almon B. Stowger patents the first automatic telephone exchange. The first exchange was opened at La Porte, Indiana, in November 1892. Dial telephones were introduced in 1896.1890
Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, publishes the first comic, the eight-page Comic Cuts, edited by Houghton Townley. Nearly 120,000 copies of the first edition were sold and this rose to 300,000 within a month. In October 1890 a rival to Comic Cuts, Funny Cuts appeared with the first-ever front-page strip cartoon.
• Telephoto lens invented by New Zealand geologist Alexander McKay.
• London evening Star prints the first front-page newspaper headline, 16 July. This read: ‘Many Happy Returns of the Day – Wedding of Professor Stuart MP’.1891
Peep-show projector, the Kinetoscope, developed by William Dickson at the instigation of his employer, Thomas Alva Edison, has first public showing in Edison's workshops in West Orange, New Jersey, to 147 representatives of the National Federation of Women's Clubs.
• The first commercial showing took place at Holland Bros’ Kinetoscope Parlor, Broadway, in April 1894. The films were produced by the Edison Co., which was thus the first-ever film production company. In the same year Greek showman George Trajedis installed six kinetoscopes in a converted Old Bond Street store in London, October, charging 2 pence per film.1893
UK: first issue of the Sketch.1894
The first commercially viable radio communication was the work of the Italian Guglielmo Marconi of Bologna. Experiments conducted in 1894 and 1895 led Marconi to offer his invention to the Italian Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. Failing to elicit interest, the inventor moved to England where customs officials broke open his equipment, suspecting him of being an anarchist. Undaunted, Marconi settled in London and in 1896 applied for a patent for a method by which ‘electrical actions or manifestations are transmitted through air, earth or water by means of electrical oscillations of high frequency’.
• The first public demonstration of Marconi's wireless took place on 12 December 1896. In the following year the Marconi Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company was formed.1895
Brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière project the first-ever film on to a screen – Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory, 22 March, to members of the Société d'Encouragement a L'Industrie Nationale, at 44 rue de Rennes, Paris. On 28 December the Lumières entertained a paying audience at the Grand Café on the Boulevard des Capuchines: cinema was born.
• William Randolph Hearst buys up the New York Journal having built up the San Francisco Examiner, given to him by his father, with sensational stories of gangsters and Hollywood sex scandals.1896
First permanent cinema, the 400-seater Vitascope Hall, opened in New Orleans, 26 June, by William T. Rock. Admission was 10 cents, plus another 10 to view the Edison Vitascope projector. The 5,000-seater Gaumont-Palace, formerly the Hippodrome Theatre, opened in Paris in 1910. The largest cinema ever built was the Roxy Theater in New York, with 6,200 seats. In Berlin 300 cinemas were opened during 1908. In the UK by 1912 there were 4,000 cinemas.
• J.H. Rigg of Leeds manufactures the first motorized cinema projector. An electrically powered model was demonstrated at the Royal Aquarium, London, 6 April.
• UK Daily Mail founded by Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe.1897
First wide-screen film on 70mm stock introduced by Enoch J. Rector of the Veriscope Co., New York.1898
The Telegraphone, the first magnetic recorder, is patented by Danish engineer Valdemar Poulsen employed by the Copenhagen Telephone Company. Demonstrated in public for the first time at the Paris Exposition of 1900, the Telegraphone used magnetized piano wire running between spools at 7 feet per second.
• Commercial production began in America in 1903. An improved model was used by Lee de Forest for experiments in talking film. The use of metal tape instead of wire came in 1929 with the Blattnerphone, again used in film production, at Elstree Studios.
• The use of plastic tape originated in Berlin with the Magnetophon produced by the firm AEG. This proved the archetype for all recorder developments from that time.1900
Film: sound on disc demonstrated to a paying audience at the Paris Exposition. The first sound-on-film process was patented by French-born Eugene Lauste of Brixton in 1906. His first successful experiment in recording and reproducing speech on film came in 1910. He was ready to exploit his system commercially, only to be interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1914. He crossed the Atlantic with his idea but met with the same lack of interest as America itself entered the war.1901
Marconi transmits messages by wireless telegraph from Cornwall to Newfoundland.1902
Canadian-born Reginald Fessenden of the US introduces the first radio-telephone; makes the first transmission of speech by wireless.
• UK: Arthur Pearson founds the Daily Express.
• Alfred Harmsworth founds the Daily Mirror.1906
Fessenden makes the first radio broadcast, using the 420-foot-high radio mast of the National Electric Signalling Company's radio station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts. On 24 December the programme began with Fessenden playing Gounod's ‘O, Holy Night’ on the violin, followed by him singing and reciting from St Luke's Gospel. The first gramophone record to be broadcast came next, a recording of Handel's ‘Largo’. The transmission ended with Fessenden wishing his listeners a happy Christmas. The audience for the broadcast turned out to be ships’ operators within a five-mile radius. Fessenden's second broadcast, on New Year's Eve, in better atmospheric conditions, was received as far away as the West Indies.
• In the UK the first radio broadcast came in the following year – from the radio room of HMS Andromeda. It was initiated by Lieutenant Quentin Crauford RN and transmitted to other ships at Chatham. News of the broadcast was not made known, for the Admiralty saw the possibilities of radio in military use, in particular as aiding communication between submarines and shore and other vessels.1907
First regular experimental broadcasts conducted by Lee De Forest's Radio Telephone Company from the Parker Building, New York. Two years later De Forest introduced his mother-in-law Harriet Stanton Black to listeners. She gave the world's first broadcast talk; her theme was women's suffrage.
• Lord Northcliffe purchases The Times.
• In UK foundation of National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
• First patent, in London, Berlin and St Petersburg of all-electric television cathode-ray tube receiver, by Russian Boris Rozing. On 9 May 1911 Rozing succeeded in transmitting by wireless over distance ‘a distinct image … consisting of four luminous bands’.1909
In US, National Board of Censorship of Motion Pictures established.1911
UK Copyright Act requires copies of all British publications to be supplied to the British Museum and to five other copyright libraries.
• First Hollywood studio, the Nestor Studio, opened on Sunset Boulevard by David Horsley.1912
Foundation, initially as the Herald, of the Daily Herald.1913
The British Board of Film Censors, formed in 1912 by the Kinematograph Manufacturers’ Association, begins operation.1914
Price of The Times reduced to one penny.
• First full-length feature film in colour, The World, the Flesh and the Devil, shown to the trade in February, and opened at the Holborn Empire in April. Kinemacolor was a two-colour system. Gaumont Chronochrome (1914) produced three colours, but three-colour processing was costly and slow in development.
• Technicolor successfully produced, in 1932, the Disney cartoon Flowers and Trees; while the first feature-length film in Technicolor was Rouben Mamoulian's Becky Sharp, released in 1935.1914–18
First World War.1915
UK: Daily Express bought by Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, for £17,500.1916
Film, The Battle of the Somme – first-ever war documentary.
• Clydeside workers are supported in their refusal to make munitions by the Labour paper Forward. It is suppressed.1918
UK: first Film Society, the Stoll Picture Theatre Club, opens with a presentation by Baroness Orczy of The Laughing Cavalier.1919
UK: Arthur Mee founds the Children's Newspaper.1920
The Marconi Company begins radio transmission from its Chelmsford works on 19 January. On 15 June Dame Nellie Melba gives a 30-minute recital, from Chelmsford, sponsored by Lord Northcliffe. Her fee was £1,000. In November transmissions from Chelmsford were suspended on the grounds that they interfered with radio communication to aircraft and ships. Broadcasts resumed from Marconi's Station 2MT at Writtle, February 1922. 2MT was the first regular broadcasting station in the UK.1922
Marconi's new station 2LO broadcasts from Marconi House in the Strand, London. Along with three other radio stations, 2LO was merged into what was to become the British Broadcasting Company Ltd., created in December 1922, licensed to broadcast from January 1923.1923
First programme of sound-on-film production at Berlin's Alhambra cinema using the Tri-Ergon process developed by Joseph Engl, Joseph Massolle and Hans Voght. In the US Lee De Forest's Phonofilm process is demonstrated to the first paying audience, at the Rialto Theater in New York.1924
UK: Sykes Committee Report on Broadcasting, followed in 1925 with the setting up of the Crawford Committee from which emerged the prime principles governing public service broadcasting in the UK until the coming of commercial TV – monopoly, funding by licence, administration by an independent public corporation. These remain the guiding principles of public service broadcasting.
• Publication in the Daily Mail of the notorious Zinoviev Letter, a fake, now considered to have emanated from the UK's own secret service, MI6.
• Felix the Cat becomes the first film character to be merchandized. Licences issued on behalf of Felix's creator Pat Sullivan for Felix to ‘feature’ on packaging and later as a soft toy.1925
Using a mechanical scanner for transmitting and receiving, Scotsman John Logie Baird (with others) creates the first television pictures on 30 October. Baird transmitted an image with gradations of light and shade using a primitive amalgam of parts, including an empty biscuit-box for the lamphouse. For test purposes a dummy's head was used, to be replaced shortly afterwards by 15-year-old office boy William Taynton, who consented to be the first star of TV for the fee of half a crown.
• Baird demonstrated his invention to the press on 7 January 1926, and gave a public demonstration on 27 January for members of the Royal Institution. Baird's mechanical system was soon to be overtaken by electronic TV transmission, first developed in Los Angeles by Philo T. Farnsworth in July 1929, though a more practical system developed by Russian-born Vladimir Zworykin of Westinghouse showed the way ahead. All modern TV systems derive from Zworykin's Kinescope and the Ionoscope, the camera tube he developed in 1933.
• Lionel Guest and H.O. Merriman of London apply their electrical recording process to record the burial service of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, proving that it was possible to substitute a microphone for the studio horn, thus location recording was born. The process was not pursued commercially, but location recording was set in progress in both the US and the UK in the same year. The all-electric record player, with loudspeaker amplification instead of the usual horn, was the Brunswick Panatrope, made by the Brunswick Company of Iowa. This year also saw the introduction of the automatic record-changer, built by 20-year-old Eric Waterworth of Hobart, Tasmania.
• First issue of the New Yorker.
• BBC broadcast first full-length play for radio, Reginald Berkeley's The White Chateau, 11 November.1927
Royal Charter establishes the non-commercial British Broadcasting Corporation, licensed to broadcast from 1 January. The BBC grew to be the largest public service broadcasting organization in the world.
• The Jazz Singer, using the Vitaphone synchronized disc system, opens at the Warner Theater on Broadway, 6 October. Directed by Alan Crosland and starring Al Jolson, the film is generally acknowledged to have inaugurated the age of sound cinema and marked the death knell of silent movies. There are only two talking sequences in the film and 281 words spoken, but the reception the film received on both sides of the Atlantic was phenomenal.
• The Lights of New York, also from Warner Bros, was the first all-talking feature film. It was premiered at New York's Strand Theater, 6 July 1928. Fox Movietone's In Old Arizona, a Western directed by Raoul Walsh, screened in December 1928 in Los Angeles, was the first all-talking sound-on-film feature. The first all-talking colour film was Warner Bros’ On With the Show, screened at New York's Wintergardens, 1929.1928
On 9 February John Logie Baird makes the first international TV transmission, sending 30-line images of his own face from London by land-line to the transmitting station G2KZ at Coulsdon, Surrey, and then across the Atlantic to a receiving set manned by his assistant, Ben Clapp, at Hartsdale, New York State. On 3 July Baird became the first to transmit television in colour. Employing a Nikow scanning-disc with red, blue and green filters he screened red and blue scarves, a lighted cigarette and red roses. Baird was to be the first to demonstrate high-definition colour – at the Dominion Theatre, London, on 4 February 1938.
• Walt Disney release Steam Boat Willie, the first animated film using synchronous sound.1929
Radar invented, by Scotsman Robert Watson-Watt.
• UK: first issue of the Communist Daily Worker.1931
Experiments in electronic high-definition TV transmission are carried out by an EMI research team at Hayes, Middlesex, under the direction of Russian-born Isaac Shoenberg. The EMI system was demonstrated to the BBC in the following year – a film of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, viewed on a 130-line cathode ray receiver with a five-inch square screen.
• RCA Victor launches the 33⅓rpm long-playing record. The first recording was of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. However, the radiograms required to play the long-player were expensive in a time of acute recession and the venture was not a success. The LP did not come into its own until 1948 when Columbia issued microgroove records developed by Peter Goldmark – vinylite discs with a playing time of 23 minutes per side, and 224–300 grooves to the inch.1932
Stereophonic cinema sound patented by French film-makers Abel Gance and André Debrie. Gance's eight-hour silent 1927 epic Napoléon Bonaparte was re-edited with added dialogue and sound-effects, and screened at the Paramount Cinema, Paris, in 1935. Warner Bros’ House of Wax (1953) was the first feature film with complete stereo sound.
• The first stereophonic disc recordings are made by Arthur Keller of the Bell Telephone Laboratories. Made on wax masters at 78rpm, they were not produced commercially but were demonstrated at the Chicago World's Fair, 1933. The first stereo discs to be manufactured for sale were produced by Emory Cork of Stamford, US, in 1957.1933
Chief of the German Navy's Signals Research Department, Dr Rudoph Kühnold produces the first working radar system. Radar in the UK was the brainchild of Robert Watson-Watt, superintendent of the radio research laboratory at Ditton Park. Experiments with radar in February 1935 led to the establishment of a number of air-defence radar stations which were to prove critical in the Second World War (1939–45).1934
The Emitron electronic camera is an advance on the system developed by Shoenberg in 1931. In the following year Shoenberg inaugurated the 405-line system and on 1 November 1936 the EMI–Marconi system became standard as the BBC television service began operation from Alexander Palace.1935
Berlin: first television mobile unit comes into operation, employed at the opening of the Berlin TV station of the Reichs Rundfunk, 22 March. The first mobile units in the UK, designed by T.C. Macnamara, were used in the BBC's first major outside broadcast, of the Coronation, May 1937.1936
First full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from the Disney Studios.1938
Russian hypnotist, sculptor and journalist Lazlo Biró constructed a prototype ball-point pen with quick-drying ink. Having acquired British rights, Biró began manufacture in a disused RAF hangar in 1944. In 1953 Baron Bic, in France, introduced the first ‘throwaway’ ball-point. In the UK priced at 1 shilling, sales during 1959 totalled 53 million.1939–45
Second World War.1939
US: William C. Huebner introduces photosetting of type.
• Premiere of Gone with the Wind.1940
UK: statutory newsprint rationing introduced; ended 1956.1941
Release of Orson Welles’ film masterpiece Citizen Kane, based on the life and lifestyle of American media baron William Randoph Hearst.
• USSR: Tamara Lobova becomes first woman to shoot a feature film, Suvarov, released in January.
• John Logie Baird demonstrates 3D television in colour, a 500-line system, 18 December, at Sydenham.
• The Communist Daily Worker is suppressed in the UK.1944
Automatic digital computer, by American Howard Aiken, is followed in the next year by the electronic computer invented in the US by J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly.1945
BBC launches the Light Programme, now Radio 2; and the following year, the Third Programme, now Radio 3.1946
The Southwestern Bell Telephone Company of St Louis, US, offers the first commercial car phone service.1947
Polaroid camera introduced by Edwin Land, US.
• Soviet Union: first 3D colour feature film, Robinson Crusoe, directed by A.N. Andreyevsky. Special spectacles were not required.
• US: Private Commission on Freedom of the Press, founded by publisher Henry Luce and chaired by the chancellor of the University of Chicago, Robert Hutchens, to ‘examine areas and circumstances under which the press of the United States is succeeding or failing; to discover where freedom of expression is or is not limited, whether by government censorship, pressure from readers or advertisers or the unwisdom of its proprietors or the timidity of its management’. The Commission report broached, formally for the first time, the concept of social responsibility and listed criteria for its fulfilment.1947–9
First UK Royal Commission on the Press – the Ross Commission.1948
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is adopted by the United Nations Assembly in Paris, 10 December.
• NBC of America screens first TV Western series, Hopalong Cassidy, starring Bill Boyd.1948
Bell Telephone Company scientists John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley introduce the first transistor.1949
Xerography invented by Chester Carlson, US, the same year as Peter Goldmark of the US introduces the first long-playing record.
• CBS launches first TV thriller series, Suspense.1950
Yoshiro Nakamats of the Imperial University, Tokyo, develops the floppy disc.1952
First video recorder demonstration conducted in the US by John Mullin and Wayne Johnson at the Bing Crosby Enterprise laboratories in Beverly Hills, California, 11 November. A colour video was demonstrated by the same company in September of the following year. Neither was developed commercially. Ampex was the first to go into production, its initial production model being acquired by CBS.
• In the UK the BBC's VERA came into operation in April 1958 with a recording of Panorama. Sony brought out a transistorized video recorder in 1961, while the first domestic video recorder, also from Sony, was launched in the US in July 1965. It was not until 1972 that Sony launched, in Japan, its first video cassette recorder.
• In Europe Philips introduced the first domestic video cassette recorder in 1974. The VHS format was introduced in 1976 by JVC of Japan; and in the same year JVC produced the first camcorders for amateur use.1953
Inauguration of the British Press Council.
• BBC demonstrates colour TV. An outside broadcast of the Coronation procession was relayed by closed circuit at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.
• The first movie in Cinemascope, 20th Century Fox's The Robe, is premiered at Grauman's Chinese Theater, Hollywood, and in the same month, September, This is Cinerama opened in New York.1954
In the UK in July, the Television Bill is given royal assent, creating the Independent Television Authority. Commercial TV began broadcasting in Britain in September 1955.
• Eurovision is inaugurated on 6 June when TV services in eight European countries linked together with a 4,000-mile chain of relays. The first programme to be screened was the Festival of Flowers from Montreux, Switzerland.1955–6
First daily TV soap broadcast in Britain – Sixpenny Corner, running for 15 minutes daily. It failed even though it was transferred by ITV to an evening slot.1959
The Manchester Guardian becomes the Guardian.1960
Bell Telephone's Touch-Tone telephone is successfully tested and becomes commercially available in 1963.
• ITVs Coronation Street opens its record-breaking run.
• The American Telephone & Telegraph Company makes the first transatlantic satellite transmission on 11 July, from Andover, Maine, to Goonhilly Downs, Cornwall, via Telstar.
• America launches first communications satellite, Echo 1.
• UK: death of the News Chronicle; first issue of the Sunday Telegraph.1962
UK: Pilkington Committee Report on Broadcasting and the Shawcross Commission Report on the Press.
• First nights on UK TV for Z Cars, Steptoe and Son and the satirical series That Was The Week That Was. In the following year, Dr Who and World in Action.1963
Founding of International Publishing Corporation (IPC); following year, IPC launches the Sun, replacing the Daily Herald.
• UK: BBC ends its ban on the mention of religion, politics, royalty or sex in comedy programmes.
• University of Michigan scientists Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnicks develop the first hologram.1964
BBC launches new channel, BBC2, in April.
• UK starters: Match of the Day and Crossroads.
• Radio Caroline, the first British pirate radio station goes on air.1965
Via the Early Bird satellite on 2 May 300 million viewers in nine countries sample the first transatlantic programme relay; 15 days later America's NBC was first with a colour transatlantic satellite programme transmission.
• Influential drama-documentary, Cathy Come Home, about Britain's homeless is broadcast by the BBC.
• Smoking advertisements are banned from UK television.1966
Lord Thomson buys The Times.
• China: Chairman Mao launches the Cultural Revolution against ‘reactionary bourgeois ideas in the sphere of academic work, education, art and theatre and publishing’.1967
First colour TV broadcast in the UK, BBC2, 1 July.
• Marine Broadcasting Offences Act UK is passed and outlaws pirate radio stations.
• BBC Radio 1 is launched, 30 September.
• The Postmaster-General, Edward Short MP, opens BBC Radio Leicester, the first local radio station in the UK.1968
In UK first broadcast of comedy series Dad's Army.1969
First commercially produced microprocessor developed by Edward Hoff of the Intel Corporation of California.
• Australian Rupert Murdoch buys the Sun and the News of the World.
• Denmark: film censorship is abolished.
• UK: York University launches first university radio station.1972
US: first pre-recorded video tapes offered for hire by Sears, Roebuck. Pre-recorded tapes were not available in the UK until 1979, supplied initially by Intervision who acquired 200 film titles from United Artists for £250,000. By the end of the year they had franchised some 150 outlets. Such was the immediate competition that Intervision soon went under despite the increase in the sales of VCRs and rental outlets.
• The UK Sunday Times is banned on 17 November from publishing a series of articles on Thalidomide, a drug taken by expectant mothers and causing horrific deformities in babies.
• Cable TV transmission starts in UK.1973
London Broadcasting (LBC) is the first commercial radio station in mainland UK, on air 8 October.1974
UK: BBC inaugurates Ceefax, the UK's first teletext service.1975
Angela Rippon becomes first regular female newsreader on British terrestrial television (BBC). ITN's News at Ten waited until 1978 before employing Anna Ford to front the news.1977
UK: Annan Commission Report on Broadcasting and the McGregor Commission Report on the Press.1978
UK: first series of the comprehensive school-set series Grange Hill.
• First video cassette recorder introduced in the UK.
• Japan: the Sony Walkman is launched.
• 1979 UK: Williams Committee Report on Obscenity and Film Censorship.
• First digital recording, by Decca, of a New Year's Day concert in Vienna; recorded live by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and issued in April.1980
The compact disc (CD), developed by Philips over several years, is demonstrated at the Salzburg Festival in April. By agreement with Philips, the Japanese firm Sony launched the first CD in 1982. With a playing time of 75 minutes, the CD used a grooveless miniature 12cm disc using a laser beam to read digitally encoded information.
• MacBride Commission Report for UNESCO.
• UK: ITV documentary Death of a Princess causes offence to the government of Saudi Arabia; millions of pounds in trade orders are lost as a result. The British government apologizes to the Saudis, 22 April.1981
UK: Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch acquires the British newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times, having been exempted from a monopolies enquiry by the Conservative government, led by Margaret Thatcher.
• The microprocessor makes possible the introduction by the IBM company of the first personal computer.1982
UK: Hunt Committee on Cable Expansion and Broadcasting Policy.
• UK: Channel 4 television begins transmission.1983
Breakfast TV starts on the BBC; the CD player, the pocket TV and the first cordless telephone are introduced to the UK.1984
UK: first satellite TV channel – Rupert Murdoch's Sky – begins transmission, 16 January.
• Civil servant Clive Ponting is acquitted by a jury of breaking the Official Secrets Act. His relevation to the press of details concerning the British sinking of the Argentine battleship The Belgrano were justified in court as being in the public interest. Later the Act was redrafted to exclude public interest as a defence.
• Robert Maxwell takes over the Daily Mirror group.
• Apple launch the Macintosh personal computer.1985
Rupert Murdoch buys American film company 20th Century Fox.
• Panasonic of Japan introduces to the UK the first VHS camcorder in January, and in May Sony launches the digital video-recorder.
• British Board of Film Censors issues age classification for videos, following the passing of the Video Recordings Act (1984).1986
Eddy Shah's Today newspaper, published in the UK, is the first to use on-the-run colour. Launched on 4 March the 44-page paper carried 16 pages in colour.
• Australian TV soap Neighbours is introduced to UK on BBC.
• USSR: Michail Gorbachev announces new policy of Glasnost, ‘openness’.
• Wapping, London: thousands of print workers picket Murdoch's new premises, protesting about computerization and the loss of jobs.
• Czechoslovakia: the Jazz Union is closed down for urging the freedom of the arts.1987
Sydney, Australia, September: British government is rebuffed in its courtroom appeal against the decision to permit the publication of Spycatcher.1988
The first transatlantic optical fibre cable is laid, costing £220 million, between the US and UK/France, able to carry simultaneously 40,000 telephone calls.1989
The Iron Curtain that divided eastern European nations – Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany etc. – from the West, is drawn aside. The trades union Solidarity is permitted to contest elections in Poland; in Hungary border troops tear down the barbed-wire frontier with Austria. Most significantly, the Berlin Wall is dismantled. However, in June, freedom protests in Beijing are crushed in Tiananmen Square. The rest of the world watches events on TV.
• In Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini condemns as blasphemous the novel The Satanic Verses by British writer Salman Rushdie and issues a fatwa, or edict, calling on all Muslims to strike down the offender. Despite worldwide protests, the death sentence remained active until September 1998 when the government of Iran distanced itself from, without rescinding, the Khomeini edict.
• Tim Berners-Lee, British inventor of the World Wide Web, first scrawls the following on a blackboard: w.w.w.1990
UK: Broadcasting Act separates control of commercial television (ITC, Independent Television Commission) and radio (the Radio Authority).
• The Northern Echo edited in Darlington becomes the first UK newspaper on CD-ROM.
• The first tapeless answering machine, the ADAM (All-Digital Answering Machine), storing messages on a silicon chip, launched in the US by PhoneMate.
• Iraq: Farzad Barzoft, journalist on the UK Observer, is executed in Baghdad after ‘confessing’ to spying.
• UK: Calcutt Committee reports on its deliberations concerning ‘a wide public aversion to newspaper intrusion’, and recommends ‘reform by self-regulation’ and a Code of Practice. The Press Complaints Commission emerged from Calcutt recommendations.1991
Robert Maxwell, British media tycoon, dies in a drowning accident.1992
Los Angeles: street riots after screening of police beating up a black motorist, Rodney King.
• UK: first land-based national commercial radio station – Classic FM – launched 7 September.
• Canada: government Bill C-128 bans the depiction of under-18s engaging in any form of ‘explicit sexual activity’, including kissing.1993
UK: carried via London Interconnect cable network, the first black TV service – Identity TV – begins, 13 July, with estimated audience of 150,000, and on 1 September BSkyB launches first women's TV channel.
• Transmitting from coaches driving round London, the BBC begins first experiments in DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting).1994
BBC converts generalist service, Radio 5, which featured programmes for young listeners, to Radio 5 Live dedicated to sports, news and chat.1998
UK: Sky TV launches digital television service, 1 October.1999
A jury in Oregon, US, fines anti-abortionist campaigners for publishing on their Internet website a ‘wanted’ list of abortion doctors, their clinics and addresses, seeing it as a thinly veiled death threat.
• During the war for Kosovo, NATO bombers target TV stations in Serbia's capital, Belgrade.
• UK: Greg Dyke is appointed new director-general of the BBC in succession to Sir John Birt.2000
UK: Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), extending official surveillance to Internet communication.
• US: merger of the world's biggest media giant, Time Warner, with AOL (America On Line).
• Launch of Women's Enews, Internet news service.
• Ukraine: campaigning journalist Georgi Gongadze abducted, murdered and beheaded, allegedly with the connivance of government authorities.
• Google becomes the world's biggest search engine.2001
11 September: TV viewers across the world witness the terrorist destruction of the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.
• Italy: Silvio Berlusconi, media magnate, becomes Italy's Prime Minister for the second time.2002
Labour government issues Communications Bill proposing the loosening of broadcasting regulations and abandoning rules concerning cross-media ownership. With modifications, becomes Act of Parliament, 2003.
• ITV Digital services go bust, but a consortium led by the BBC steps in to offer over 20 digital channels (freeview). New digital services from the BBC: CBBC (for children, aged 6–13), Cheebies (for under 6s) BBC Four (art, history, current affairs), BBC Three (drama, entertainment, music). At the same time, BBC radio goes digital (BBC Digital, Asian Network, 6Music, 1Xtra, Five Live Sports Extra and BBC7 (comedy, drama and children's programmes).
• China: analysts estimate that the state employs 30,000 people to monitor and control information.
• Gulf Cooperation Council, meeting in Oman, warns satellite TV station al-Jazeera to make programmes ‘more respectful’.
• Poland: Church-run Radio Maryja is shut down on the orders of the Catholic primate, Cardinal Josef Glemp.
• US: Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami is denied a visa permitting him to enter the country at the invitation of the New York Film Festival to lecture at Harvard University.
• UK: David Shayler, former M15 officer, is jailed for six months for breaking the Official Secrets Act by leaking documents concerning alleged malpractice in the UK secret service.
• Announcement of plans for a £2.6b merger between Granada (seven ITV licences) and Carlton Communications (five ITV licenses), subject to approval by the UK office of Fair Trading. The merger leaves only three independent UK franchises – Grampian, Scottish and Ulster TV.
• Report on human rights in 50 countries by the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Privacy International declares that post-11 September 2001 ‘many new anti-terrorist laws adopted by national governments … threaten political freedom’.2003
Federal Communications Commission (USA) initiates major shift towards loosening regulations concerning the delivery of TV and radio news, considering that many in-place rules are ‘antiquated’; that is, standing in the way of further media mergers.
• Global publics find their voice in protesting against war in Iraq, but million-strong marches do not prevent US and UK forces going into battle despite the failure to obtain a United Nations mandate for military action.
• Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks tells fans in London that the prospect of the invasion of Iraq makes her ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush. Radio stations part of the conglomerate Clear Channel Communications (which had offered financial sponsorship and on-air promotion for pro-war ‘Rallies for America') pull the Dixie Chicks from their playlists. Clear Channel suspends two DJs in Colorado Springs for defying the ban. Cumulus Media, owning 262 radio stations, bans the Country Chicks from all of its country stations.
• UK: Merger between independent television broadcasters Carlton and Granada.
• 29 December in the UK the responsibilities of the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC), the Office of Telecommunications (Oftel), the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency pass to the new regulatory body, the Office of Communications (Ofcom).
• During 2003, 42 journalists were killed worldwide, 766 arrested, 1,460 physically attacked or threatened and 501 media censored, according to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières).2004
Hutton Report, UK, examines the circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly who was the source of an early morning BBC radio report by Andrew Gilligan suggesting government claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction had been exaggerated. The Report, exonerating the government of any blame in the ‘outing’ of Kelly, resulted in the resignation of the Chairman of the BBC, Gavyn Davies, the Director General, Greg Dyke, and Gilligan.
• Rupert Murdoch's BskyB wins contract, in face of competition from Independent Television News (ITN), to supply news to UK's Channel Five.
• Butler Report subjects government claims concerning weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the performance of the security services in monitoring the true situation in Iraq, to highly critical scrutiny. However, finds no one intentionally to blame for claims which proved unfounded.
• Phillis Review of Government Communications.
• Facebook website is launched.
• By now Blogging has become a mainstream online activity.
• Russia: journalist Anna Politkovskaya is poisoned on her way to cover the school massacre in Beslan; later, she is murdered in the stairwell of her block of flats.
• UK: Piers Morgan, editor of the tabloid newspaper Daily Mirror, resigns following the publication of pictures – later declared fake – purporting to show British soldiers ill-treating Iraqi civilians.
• US: The Disney company blocks distribution of Michael Moore's documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11 exposing links between the American President George W. Bush and prominent Saudi-Arabian families, including that of Osama bin Laden.
• 14th Press Freedom Day. Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) announce that ten journalists and media assistant were killed between January amd May, 431 journalists arrested worldwide, 366 physically attacked or threatened and 178 media censored. In 22 countries, 133 journalists are imprisoned, including 73 ‘cyber-dissidents’, 61 in China.
• Birmingham, UK: the depiction of a rape scene in a Sikh temple sparks a riot outside the city Repertory Theatre in protest at Gunpreet Kaur Bhatti's play, Behzti (Dishonour). Despite the play being written by a Sikh (or perhaps in a way because it was written by one of the faith) the action against the play – 400 protestors battling with riot police – leads to its closure.
• Launch in the UK of Spinwatch, a collaborative venture between practising investigative journalists and academics with the aim of countering government and corporate ‘spin’.2005
Freedom of Information Act (UK) comes in to force.
• Somalia: BBC correspondent Kate Peyton is fatally wounded on her way to interview the speaker of the country's transitional parliament. According to Reporters Without Borders 38 of the 636 journalists killed since 1992 have been women. In the same month, journalist Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wassan was found dead in Mosul, northern Iraq, after being kidnapped by masked men.
• In the run-up to the UK General Election in May, the Association of Gypsy Women releases a statement protesting at laws that ‘are being used to target Gypsies and Travellers’, with the open encouragement of the popular press. ‘We categorically reject the terrifying image of Gypsies that is being promoted by the Daily Mail, Sun and Daily Express. We call on the British Press Council to intervene’.
• UK: 3rd reading of bill to ban incitement to religious hatred passes through the House of Commons.
• New York Times journalist Judith Miller imprisoned for refusing to declare a source; spends 85 days behind bars for breach of a law forbidding the revealing of the names of secret service (CIA) agents.
• al-Jazeera journalist Taysir Alouni is jailed for seven years by a Spanish court after being found guilty of collaboration with the terrorist group, al-Qaeda.
• Rania-al-Baz, a TV announcer with Saudi-Arabian TV, in order to publicize domestic violence in her country, publishes pictures of her disfigured face after being beaten up by her husband. To avoid reprisals, she escapes to France.
• UK: Channel Four television launches new ‘adult entertainment’ channel, More4.
• Frankfurt, Germany: first international Wikimania conference (see entry, WIKI, WIKIPEDIA).
• Six students at the University of Lancaster are charged by the University authorities with aggravated trespass after protesting against a ‘corporate venturing’ event in University's George Fox building; press comments link the action with the New Labour government's anti-terrorism bill passing through Parliament.
• The same unease concerning terrorism and legislation aimed at stifling it, is highlighted during the annual Labour Party conference in Brighton in October: an elderly party member, Walter Wolfgang, once a refugee from Hitler's Germany, was forcibly ejected from the conference hall for shouting ‘Rubbish!’ during a speech by the foreign secretary Jack Straw justifying the Iraq war. Mr Wolfgang, 57 years a party member, was held by the police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and later released; the event forcing apologies from Labour ministers and causing a press furore.
• The BBC announces plans to open a new World Service broadcasting channel directed to the Arab region, and in competition with the 24-hour Arabic news channel, al-Jazeera.
• China: 400 million viewers – the largest TV audience in history – tune in to see 21-year-old Li Yuchun, without make-up, with spiky hair, singing songs aggressively, including songs written for men, win the Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Supergirl Concert award. Within days the shopping malls of Shanghai were heaving with Li Yuchun mugs, keyrings and T-shirts. A concert sponsored by the Better Posture Equipment Company in the city's largest, 39,000-seater stadium, was sold out in hours.
• Percentage of UK households with digital TV has grown from 15.5% in 2000 to 61.9% in 2005.
• Turkey: best-selling author Orhan Pamuk faces trial for ‘denigrating the Turkish identity’ for speaking out concerning the Armenian genocide of 1915, when almost a million Armenians were killed in the Ottoman Empire.
• British playwright, poet, actor, scriptwriter and political protester Harold Pinter (b. 1930), author of The Birthday Party, The Caretaker, The Dumb Waiter and The Homecoming, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
• Following harassment by the authorities in Uzbekistan, the BBC closes its World Service operation.
• YouTube, an audio-visual network platform, is launched.
• US search engine Google resists request by American Department of Justice to provide a list of every website address operating through Google for June and July 2005; but then announces net link with China, offering a service available to 110 million online users. This agreement is subject to Google's willingness to operate as a filter – a censor – of information exchange. In short, Google subscribes to the Great Firewall of China, restricting access to many Western websites and blocking words such as ‘freedom’ and names such as ‘Tiananmen Square’.
• In a US Congress House international relations committee meeting Yahoo! Cisco Systems, Microsoft and Google are accused of collusion with a repressive regime (China).
• Following publication in Danish and Norwegian newspapers of cartoons satirizing the prophet Mohammed, widespread Muslim protests occur across the arab world, the Danish and Norwegian embassses in Damascus being burnt to the ground. Crowds of protestors also burn Danish flags in several other countries. Violent demonstrations take place in Lebanon and Afghanistan. In Jordan, two newspaper editors who published the cartoons are charged with offences.
• UK House of Commons votes to reinstate the ‘glorification of terrorism’ clause in new anti-terrorism legislation; this shortly following on from parliament's assent to New Labour plans to introduce ID cards for British citizens.
• Mexican goverenment admits that it staged a kidnap and rescue operation as proof that it is winning the war on organized crime.
• Australia: Dateline, current affairs programme of the Special Broadcasting Service, publishes images, previously unseen by the public, of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American military personnel at the Abu Ghraib jail.
• al-Jazeera, the Arab news station, begins news service in English. British broadcaster Sir David Frost is contracted to front a one-hour daily programme.
• UK: Government White Paper announces that the BBC licence will be extended to 2016. The govenors will be replaced by a trust with sovereign control of the corporation, leaving responsibility for the day to day running of the BBC to an executive board. The White Paper urges that entertainment be placed at the heart of the corporation's broadcasting mission.
• Twitter is launched.
• Reuters merges with the Thomson Organisation in an £8.7 billion deal.
• Iran: Launch of English-speaking TV channel, Press TV; with British journalist Yvonne Ridley employed to host live political show, The Agenda.
• July: Rupert Murdoch's News International acquires Wall Street Journal. December, Murdoch makes over his newspaper empire to his son James; including control of Sky Italia and the Star TV Network in Asia.
• Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi again becomes Italy's Prime Minister.
• The BBC launches a new Arabic TV channel (BBC Arabic TV), estimated to cost £25m a year.
• The Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism is won by 24 year old Palestinian Mohammed Omer. On his return from the London prize-giving he was arrested by Shin Bet, Israel's security organization, emerging after 12 hours’ detention in need of hospital treatment.
• After a nine-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights rules that UK government phone-tapping practices violate citizens’ right to privacy.
• Indian Space Research Organization launches record 10 satellites in one flight.
• Times of India group acquire British Virgin Radio, renaming it Absolute Radio.
• The BBC refuses to transmit the Disasters Emergency Committee Gaza Appeal in case it would be seen to be ‘unbalanced’ in terms of its professed neutrality.
• Former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev becomes owner of the UK London Evening Standard which shortly becomes a free sheet.
• PolitiFact.com, online news and comment service of the St. Petersburg Times, Florida, becomes the first website to be awarded the prestigious Pulitzer prize for journalism.2010
March. For £1 Lebedev purchases the titles of the UK Independent, Independent on Sunday. In October, the Independent launches a new daily, entitled ‘i’, a condensed version of the Indie for readers in a rush.
• April. The Apple Company of the US launches the i-Pad, described by Apple's chief executive, Steve Jobs, as ‘our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device and at an unbelievable price’.
• America On Line (AOL) sells off Bebo, the social networking platform, for a fraction of the $850m it paid for it in 2008.
• December. Coronation Street (UK ITV), the world's longerst-running TV soap opera, celebrates its 50th anniversary, while BBC Radio's The Archers reaches 60.
• Kuwait shuts the offices of the news network al-Jazeera and removes its accreditation for having broadcast news of an opposition member of the country's National Assembly, and its use of film footage of police beating opposition members and supporters gathered to discuss government crackdowns on public freedom.
• UK: The Video Recordings Act of 1984, having been found to be in breach of European Union Law in 2009, is reeneacted in one parliamentary day.2011
Popular uprisings in a number of north African and Middle Eastern countries are seen to have been aided by Internet and mobile communication.
• US: Jill Abramson becomes the first female editor of the New York Times in the paper's 160-year history.
• UK: Engulfed in a phone-hacking scandal, the 168-year-old News of the World, part of Rupert Murdoch's News International (UK wing of News Corp), is shut down, its final issue appearing on Sunday 10 July. The UK government sets up a public inquiry chaired by Lord Justice Leveson to investigate hacking and regulation of the media. Rupert Murdoch, his son James, chairman of News International, and the organization's chief executive (until her resignation) Rebekah Brooks, are summoned for questioning by House of Commons select committees. Their connections with the Murdoch press made public, the Commissioner of the London Metropolitan police, Sir Paul Stephenson, and his deputy John Yates resign.
• Italy: November. Financial crisis in Eurozone brings to an end the premiership of media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, the country's longest-serving Prime Minister.