The future was then

So many quaint oddities in this news clip from 1981 about the coming digital revolution. There's the green glow of the computer monitor, the mid-century screech of the dial-up modem, the newswoman's Very Brady hairstyle. It's the year Diana fell for Prince Charles, Americans fell for Indiana Jones, and the FDA tried to call ketchup a vegetable.

The news peg? If you're one of the 3,000 people with a PC in the Bay Area, you can call a local number, connect to Ohio, then download that day's newspaper onto your home computer. In just two hours. No pix, no graphics, just dot-matrix text scrolling v e r y s l o w l y across the cathode ray screen, but still, the future, right there in your living room.

"This is an experiment," says David Cole of the late, lamented San Francisco Examiner, which was still decades away from its ignominious end. "We're trying to figure out what this means to us as editors and reporters, and to the home user."

Just 28 years later and we still haven't quite figured it out.

(h/t to On The Media for finding that video.)

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