The Times 2085? (from 1985)

Thanks to my wonderful ex-colleague at The Birmingham Post, John Cranage, I have some fantastic Christmas reading to do in the form of The Times’ 200th Anniversary publication:


I’ve already had a flick through the 166-page annual from 1985 and the whole thing looks marvellous. However, there was one advertisement that stopped me in my tracks. It was from Ben Johnson Ltd. Back in 1985 it appears they were the colour printers for The Times. They used their advert to imagine just what the newspaper might look like by 2085:

This is the (non-advertising part of the) text:

What will your great great grandchildren be looking at in a hundred years from now to mark three centuries of The Times?

Will there even be a Times then? The need will still be there for the same objective reporting of contemporary events coupled with interpretation and comment. But will it appear daily in the form of black text and pictures printed on paper? Probably not. It may, for instance, appear on a hand-held screen with direct access to a news databank transmitting constantly up-dated text and pictures of selected subjects of interest to the individual reader.

The equivalentof this commemorative book may be a disk, a series of holograms harking back to the quaint old days of paper and ink or even, as an exercise in nostalgia, a genuine book.

iPhone Apps? Kindle? News aggregators? The semantic web? We’re only a quarter of the way to 2085 and – apart from perhaps the holograms – these are all perfectly practical suggestions for today. Giving away a book as a disc is actually a pretty outdated idea.

How fast we move.

And what are Ben Johnson doing today? Nearly 25-years on they are still in business as Ben Johnson Office Solutions providing “fully-supported office IT, print and document management solutions”.

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