Famous moments in magazine history from the year you were born
Print media is on the decline and the reason is clear. With the rise of digital media putting print publications out of business left and right, Stacker is taking a moment to remember just how important and influential print media has been.
Believe it or not, magazines have been around since the late 17th century. It started with the launch of the 1663 German publication, Erbauliche Monaths Unterredungen. America during the 19th century saw the rise of literary magazines, publishing many important American writers, from Edgar Allan Poe to Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. The end of the 1800s brought pulp magazines to the scene—directly contributing to entertainment magazines, which emerged in the early 20th century. During the 1940s, publishers began targeting a younger age group with teen magazines. Seventeen was the first, published in 1944. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, magazine editors began testing boundaries with notorious cover photos and headlines, many of which caused scandals. Magazine culture also helped to evolve the concept of “new journalism,” which takes the hard rules of journalism and weaves in literary elements for fantastic storytelling.
Since the beginning, magazines have defined generations. There are genres for every interest, from politics and culture to fashion and entertainment, DIY at-home projects, gardening, baking, and everything in between. Over the decades we've seen many beloved titles come and go. Stacker researched and compiled a list of noteworthy magazine events from the past 100 years, one for each year.
How many of these events were you alive for? How many do you remember? Read on to see the most notable magazine events from the past 100 years.
[Pictured: Glamour magazine featuring Jane Fonda in 1959.]
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1920: First Architectural Digest
The beginning of a new era for architecture, 1920 saw the publication of the very first issue of Architectural Digest. The magazine originally focused solely on California design, as the state was paving the way in a melange of different architectural styles.
1921: First issue of Barron's published
The first issue of Barron's National Business & Financial Weekly was founded by Clarence W. Barron. It was the sister publication to The Wall Street Journal, which was founded at the end of the 19th century. Barron's first editor was Barron himself. Since then it has become one of the leading financial papers in the world, recounting the previous week's stock market activity, financial statistics, and future projections. The very first issues were only 10 cents apiece.
[Pictured: Clarence W. Barron (center) with President and Mrs. Coolidge in 1925.]
1922: Reader's Digest founded by William Roy DeWitt Wallace
When Reader's Digest first hit the stands (well, mailboxes) it was a series of entertainment and general interest articles taken from other periodicals. It cost 10 cents and was available only by mail. The cover of the first issue said, "Thirty-one articles each month from leading magazines—each article of enduring value and interest in condensed and compact form."
[Pictured: Lila Acheson Wallace and DeWitt Wallace.]
1923: Time debuted
The first issue of Time may not have looked the same, but evidently its content has adhered to the original message throughout the decades. It started as a look at the week's news—the first of its kind—from a variety of angles. The first cover featured then-House Speaker Joseph G. Cannon; the entire issue was only 32 pages.
1924: True Detective magazine launched
The pulp magazine genre got a head start with the first issue of True Detective (later changed to True Detective Mysteries in 1939). The first issue was started by American publisher Bernarr Macfadden.
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1925: First issue of New Yorker magazine published
Founded in 1925, the New Yorker was originally designed to highlight New York's social and cultural life. Upon its release, the magazine was deemed by the editor to be "not edited for the old lady in Dubuque"—a remark that stung Dubuque residents for years after. Eventually it became expanded to include literature, current affairs, and more. The New Yorker's founder, Harold W. Ross, was the first editor and remained in the role until his death in 1951.
1926: First issue of National Enquirer published
When it first burst on the scenes the National Enquirer was called the New York Evening Enquirer, even though it was based in Boca Raton, Florida. Then, as it is today, it was known for its celebrity gossip and investigative reporting. Its founder, William Griffin, secured the funds from William Randolph Hearst. Rumor has it that Hearst used the Enquirer to test experimental journalistic techniques (such as hyperbole—the original ‘clickbait’), but these never proved to be successful and sales were never as high as with other contemporary publications.
[Pictured: William Randolph Hearst.]
1927: Time started selecting Man of the Year
Time picked Charles Lindbergh as the magazine's first Time Man of the Year (late Time Person of the Year) in 1927 to celebrate the first solo, nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The magazine has gone on to select significant and influential people throughout history every single year, including almost every sitting president, and controversial figures like Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Ayatollah Khomeini.
1928: Mechanix Illustrated debuted
Mechanix Illustrated was launched as a direct competitor to Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. The magazine was a DIY-lover's bible, guiding readers with how-to steps for various at-home projects, from home improvements to how to build your own sports car. In 1996 the magazine was renamed Today's Homeowner, and folded in 2001 after it marched with sister publication, This Old House.
1929: Youth's Companion merges with The American Boy
Youth's Companion was one of the earliest American magazines, founded in 1827 and published until 1929. The magazine was known for its wholesome content that had a slightly religious slant. Eventually, the magazine started publishing less “restrictive” content and began including fashion articles and love stories. The magazine was more than 100 years old when it merged with Detroit's American Boy.
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