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Your shortwave could have delivered the newspaper?

1938: The Gernsback Radio Newspaper (Photo: Smithsonian Magazine)

(Source: Smithsonian Magazine)

The introduction of broadcast radio caused some in the newspaper industry to fear that newspapers would soon become a thing of the past. After all, who would read the news when you could just turn on the radio for real-time updates?

Newspapers had even more to fear in 1938 when radio thought it might compete with them in the deadtree business as well.

The May, 1938 issue of Hugo Gernsback‘s Short Wave and Television magazine included an article titled “Radio to Print News Right In Your Home.” The article described a method of delivering newspapers that was being tested and (provided it didn’t interfere with regular radio broadcasts) would soon be used as a futuristic news-delivery method.

[…]This invention of a wireless fax, as it were, was credited to W.G. H. Finch and used radio spectrum that was otherwise unused during the late-night hours when most Americans were sleeping. The FCC granted a special license for these transmissions to occur between midnight and 6am, though it would seem that a noisy printing device in your house cranking away in the middle of the night might have been the fatal flaw in their system. It wasn’t exactly a fast delivery either, as the article notes that it takes “a few hours” for the machine to produce your wireless fax newspaper.

The full article, is a must-read.

Fascinating to realize that even in the infancy of wireless, newspapers already felt threatened by new technology. Goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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