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Early Coverage of the Web, the Segway, David Petraeus & David Brent

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Every Monday, we travel into the archives of The New York Times to find the first time the paper covered various topics. This edition looks at the World Wide Web, the Segway, Michael Stipe and more.

World Wide Web

February 28, 1993

A Web of Networks, an Abundance of Services
world-wide-web.jpgBill Clinton and Al Gore made a campaign promise to help build a national data network, hoping it would lead to new digital information services. While waiting to see if the new Administration follows through, businesses can get a taste of the future with the rapidly growing commercial networks of computer services.
* * * * *
Cheryl Currid, a business consultant in Houston, said she had begun using Radiomail, a Menlo Park, Calif., company that provides two-way mobile electronic mail over the Internet. Since she signed up, her cellular phone bill has dropped sharply.

"I'm an electronic mail addict," she said. "People can find me wherever I am. I have negotiated several business deals recently without even using a telephone."
* * * * *
Additionally, gateways exist so that WAIS users can retrieve information from non-WAIS data bases like Gopher, developed by university users of Next computers, and the World Wide Web, which makes available physicists' research from many locations.

Keep reading for Michael Stipe, the Segway, and more...

Michael Stipe

May 30, 1984

The Poplife
stipe.jpgLast year, R.E.M.'s first album, Murmur (I.R.S.), rose to a respectable No. 36 on the charts and won almost unanimous critical acclaim. There were a few detractors, who complained that they couldn't understand the lyrics being sung by R.E.M.'s lead vocalist, Michael Stipe. They wondered if there really was anything there. The new R.E.M. album, Reckoning, has won over most of the skeptics with songs and arrangements that seem more direct and focused, and singing that aims more at being understood.
* * * * *
Reckoning has moved up to No. 26 on the album charts and shows signs of becoming R.E.M.'s first big seller. "People keep telling us that to succeed in pop music these days you have to have either real loud guitars or a dance beat, preferably both, Mr. Buck said. "I guess we could have had that; we could have done a zillion things to advance our careers. But we insist on taking it at our own speed. We're going to be touring now for a month and a half or so, then taking some time off to work on songs for the next album, then going back out for another month. If we're going to be successful, we want it to be on our own terms."

Segway

December 3, 2001

An Inventor Unveils His Mysterious Personal Transportation Device
GOB-segway.jpgIt is not a hovercraft, a helicopter backpack or a teleportation pod.

The mystery transportation device being developed by the award-winning inventor Dean Kamen—the subject of continuous fevered speculation since provocative clues and predictions surfaced in media reports last January—is not hydrogen-powered, a favored theory in Internet discussions. Nor does it run on a superefficient Stirling engine (yet).

But if the public's collective yearning for Jetsonian travel technology must remain unrequited this week, at least the speculators will have their curiosity satisfied.

Mr. Kamen plans to demonstrate today a two-wheeled battery-powered device designed for a single standing rider. Its chief novelty lies in the uncanny effect, produced by a finely tuned gyroscopic balancing mechanism, of intuiting where its rider wants to go—and going there.

David Petraeus

May 12, 1974

Hollister Knowlton Betrothed To David H. Petraeus, a Cadet
petraeus.jpg Lieut. Gen. William A Knowlton, superintendent of the United States Military Academy, and Mrs. Knowlton have announced the engagement of their daughter Miss Hollister Knowlton of First Classman David Howell Petraeus, who will graduate from West Point June 5. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Sixtus Petraeus of Cornwall, NY.

Miss Knowlton who will graduate June 2 from Dickinson College, and her fiancé have planned their wedding for early July. An alumna of the Madeira School in Greenway, VA, she was presented at the Internation Debutante Ball here.

David Brent

January 19, 2003

Finding Humor in the Everyday Horror of the Office
david-brent.jpgThe man in charge of this division, David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais, who writes and directs The Office with Stephen Merchant), is the type of lower middle manager who wants to be both a dignified leader of men and a politically incorrect laddie. Wearing a fidgety smile and a goatee he is a few years too old for, he is forever making tired jokes that are greeted with queasy silence. Still, he thinks he's the life of the party. Mr. Gervais calls Brent an example of "blind spot" comedy.
* * * * *
By the time Gervais met Stephen Merchant, it was 1997 and he had landed a marketing job at a London radio station, XFM. Mr. Merchant, who was his assistant, described Mr. Gervais as "the laziest man I'd ever met." He also felt that Mr. Gervais was a born entertainer.

"He'd never done any stand-up or proper stage performing," said Mr. Merchant, 28. In lieu of actually working, Mr. Gervais created a string of elaborate characters just to make Mr. Merchant laugh. "The turns of phrase, the way he spoke, the body language," Mr. Merchant said. "It was like he'd been practicing it in his bedroom for years, waiting for someone to be his audience—only he hadn't. It just came to him instinctively. I thought: 'Wait a minute. There's something here.' I told him: 'Gervais, you're a fat, funny man. Let's show the world.'"

The two men got their chance when Mr. Merchant was accepted in a BBC production training course. He was required to make a short film, and had Mr. Gervais play the lead in his "seedy boss" persona. Mr. Gervais, who said he used to watch the mock documentary This Is Spinal Tap every day, felt right at home in a faux-reality format. Pleased with the outcome, the two showed the 20-minute film to a BBC executive. The rest, as Mr. Gervais put it, has been "like a fairy tale."

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Old News: Very Early Media Coverage of the GOP Candidates
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Every week, I used to wander into the New York Times archives to find the first time the paper covered various topics (like The Walkman). In honor of tonight's Iowa Caucus, we're bringing back "The First Time News Was Fit to Print." Here are the first times The Times mentioned each of the remaining GOP candidates.

Mitt Romney

February 28, 1960

A Maverick Starts a New 'Crusade'
mitt-and-george.jpgGeorge Romney feels that he has pat across the compact car. Now he is turning his missionary fervor to a campaign to reshape American political institutions.


The man who made the compact car big competition for Detroit's land yachts is crusading against bigness on an even bigger scale these days. George Romney, the almost terrifyingly earnest head of the American Motors Corporation, has moved from his conquest of the gas-guzzling dinosaur into a battle to break up the concentration of economic power embodied in giant companies and giant unions.
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He speaks with equal disrespect of the ranking politicians of both major parties when it comes to their readiness to face up to what he considers the make-or-break issues in America's survival.
*
George Romney considers talking his wife out of a movie career his greatest sales achievement. They are shown here with their children, Mitt, Jane and Scott.

[Well, not here. This picture is from two years later, when George announced he was running for President. To see the picture referenced here, you'll have to check out the original article.]

Ron Paul

April 28, 1976

Big Victory by Bentsen Called Vital to Re-election
ron-paul.jpg
John B. Connally, the popular former Democratic Governor [of Texas], was credited in 1970 with pushing Mr. [Lloyd] Bentsen to victory over Mr. [George] Bush [in the Senate race]. Mr. Connally, now a Republican, helped a politically unknown gynecologist, Dr. Ron Paul, upset a liberal Democrat, Bob Gammage, in a race last month to fill the unexpired 22d Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Bob Casey, who has been appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Rick Santorum

November 7, 1990

The 1990 Elections: State by State
In an upset, Representative Doug Walgren, a seven-term Democratic Congressman from Pittsburgh, lost to a political neophyte, Richard Santorum, a 32-year-old Republican lawyer who ran on an anti-incumbent theme.

Michele Bachmann

September 24, 2006

Campaign in Crisis Mode (by Charles Baxter)
While my assignment was to write about Minnesota’s important Senate race, I think there’s more to be learned right now from the far closer contest in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which borders Minneapolis-St. Paul to the east, north and west. The race, between Michele Bachmann, the Republican, and Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, has revealed a Bush-era national trend now visible locally.
*
Terrorism has infected every subject and every discussion, even locally. Alarmism has become so ubiquitous in discussions of Iraq, the decline of the family and financing for Social Security and education that polarization is assured. Extremity, after all, is more newsworthy than good sense.

This outlook has the effect of trivializing most local issues — who cares about farm-price supports when radical Muslims want to make Stillwater part of the caliphate? And it ensures that the volume will always be turned up to 11 — at least until everybody begins to suffer crisis fatigue and tries to calm down.

Newt Gingrich

November 2, 1974

Divided GOP in Georgia Facing a Rout on Tuesday
In another House race, however, Republicans may be able to take some comfort. In the state's Sixth District, suburban Atlanta, the 10-term Democratic mainstay who ran unopposed in 1972, faces a strong challenge from a 31-year-old history professor, Newt Gingrich. Although Mr. Flynt is favored, he is facing some difficulty because he is now running in a redrawn district in which his strength has not yet been tested.

[Note: Gingrich narrowly lost.]

Rick Perry

November 8, 1990

Farm Chief's Foe Has the Last Laugh
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner with the Borscht Belt sense of humor is out. Jim Hightower, a two-term incumbent known as an advocate of enlightened farming as well as one of the funniest figures in American politics, was defeated Tuesday by Rick Perry, a 40-year-old rancher and farmer.
*
Katie Dickie, Mr. Perry's press secretary, said today that her candidate "took a lot of angry farmers, banded them together, raised money in places like Garden City, Sterling City, the small places all across Texas, East Texas and West Texas."

She added, "Rick wants to refocus the department on mainstream agriculture."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

July 22, 1998

Nova of Canada to Purchase Huntsman Styrene Business
The Nova Corporation of Canada will acquire the bulk of the styrene operations of the Huntsman Corporation for $860 million (United States) in cash and preferred stock, the companies announced yesterday.
*
For Huntsman, of Salt Lake City, the largest privately held chemical company in the United States, the deal represents a chance to pay down debt and to increase funds to homeless shelters and other charities that its ownership family has long supported.

In particular, it will let Huntsman funnel more than $100 million into research on genetic predispositions to cancer. Jon M. Huntsman [the candidate's father], the company's chairman, lost both his parents to cancer and has had two bouts with the disease himself.
*
Under the terms of yesterday's deal, Huntsman will receive $625 million in cash, and $235 million of nonvoting preferred shares, which can be converted to a maximum of 10 million common shares of Nova stock in two years. Nova will also assume $60 million of Huntsman's debt. After the deal, Huntsman will become Nova's largest shareholder.

Mr. Huntsman expects the two companies to combine some purchasing operations and to seek ways to combine product lines and operations. His son, Jon M. Hunstman Jr., will sit on Nova's board.

More First Mentions Worth Mentioning...

Greatest Hits of 2007 (Walkman, Email, Jerry Seinfeld and more)
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Greatest Hits of 2008 (Princess Diana, Personal Computer, John McCain and more)
*
See all the previous installments of The First Time News Was Fit To Print
*
November 3, 2007: Appearance on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday

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10 Headlines from 9/11/01
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We spent the summer of 2001 chastising Gary Condit, mourning Mr. Belvedere, and pardoning Microsoft. But on the second Tuesday of September, a mere twenty months after widespread wisecracks about the world ending on Y2K, it felt like the world did. I've been reading through the online archives of The New York Times from September 11, 2001, to see what was in the news the morning of the attacks. Here are some of the headlines:

1. Taliban Suicide Bombers Target Deposed Afghan Leaders

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban."

2. Washington: Rumsfeld Attacks Bureaucracy

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that he was declaring war on bureaucracy in the Pentagon and that he wanted to combine some civilian and military staffs, cut duplication in the military services and shift some jobs to the private sector."

3. Senator Joe Biden attacks President Bush on Missile Defense

"Mr. Biden has fastened onto missile defense as the centerpiece of his critique of Bush foreign policy. In part, that is because the system is almost the sole focus of the administration's foreign policy... 'Are we willing to end four decades of arms control agreements, and go it alone, a kind of bully nation, sometimes a little wrongheaded, but ready to make unilateral decisions in what we perceive to be our self-interest?' Mr. Biden said in his speech at the National Press Club."

4. Michael Jordan to Unretire (Again)?

"Jordan is either getting ready to return to the N.B.A. at the age of 38 or he is setting up the sports world for a letdown of legendary proportion. Either way, the drama builds. Speaking with three reporters, Jordan said he was less than 10 days away from a news conference in Washington announcing his decision."

5. Grand Jury Declines Request For Inquiry into Condit Matter

"A grand jury has rejected a flight attendant's request that it investigate her complaint that Representative Gary A. Condit obstructed justice by asking her to sign an affidavit falsely stating that they did not have an affair....Anne Marie Smith, 40, said that she and Mr. Condit had a 10-month romance and that his intermediaries tried to get her to sign an affidavit denying the affair....Ms. Smith's link with Mr. Condit became public after the disappearance in Washington of Chandra Ann Levy, a 24-year-old government intern from Modesto, on May 1. Mr. Condit, 53, is not considered a suspect in the disappearance, but he acknowledged having had a relationship with Ms. Levy."

6. Mayoral Candidates Crisscross City Seeking Last Few Votes

"The six major candidates running to succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ranged across the city yesterday in the final burst of politicking before the polls open today. Dodging late summer downpours, the candidates hit neighborhoods where they thought they might be able to eek out just a few more votes. Crossing and crisscrossing the boroughs -- sometimes missing one anothers' campaigns by just minutes -- it seemed as though the six candidates were out to shake every hand in the city."

7. Broncos Win Game, Lose Receiver

"The New York Giants did not upset the festive Denver atmosphere as the Broncos christened their noisy new home with a loud and thorough 31-20 rout. The game's outcome seem to hinge on a gruesome injury to Denver's Pro Bowl wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who broke his lower left leg early in the third quarter."

8. Disco Near Auschwitz to Close

"The owner of a building now used as a disco but once a tannery where Nazis sorted the luggage and clothes of Jews at Auschwitz said he would not renew the club's lease when it expires in November."

9. U.S. Blacklists Paramilitaries in Colombia

"Being put on the State Department list of terrorist groups means that financial support for the organization is illegal. The action also makes it easier for the United States to seize assets, an important factor because investigators here estimate that the paramilitary groups have hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts."

10. Thomas Friedman on Terror in Israel

"You drive south...and there is another long concrete wall blocking snipers from hitting Gilo, but also sealing in Gilo. There are Hebrew posters all over this wall that read: 'The New Middle East.' Some Israeli coffee shops now have security guards at the door to deter suicide bombers."

See previous installments of 'The First Time News Was Fit To Print.'

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