The New York Times of 1852 looks fairly similar to the New York Times of today, with one big difference: Photos. In the data artist Josh Begley‘s latest short film, scrolling images of every front page of the paper of record from 1852 until today reveal how images slowly made their way into the news.
Before photography came illustrations, the first of which were published in 1861 in the form of two front-page cartoons lampooning James Gordon Bennett, the publisher of the paper’s rival, the Herald. The first actual photographs appeared decades later in the Sunday magazine in 1896, nearly a century after photography was invented. But photographs wouldn’t make the front page for another 14 years, with a 1910 image of a flight from Albany to New York by the aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss that the paper sponsored.
After the invention of the small and mobile 35-millimeter Leica camera in 1925, photojournalism took off, and photographs began to appear with much more regularity on the Times front page. In 1926, the first photo transmitted using radio waves was published on the front page, showing a dinner that honored the retiring viceroy of India. Surprisingly, the first color photograph didn’t appear on Page 1 until October of 1997. Even more surprisingly, the first color photograph was of the baseball player Tony Fernandez, who hit a home run in the 11th inning to send the Cleveland Indians to that year’s World Series.
Today, it’s hard to imagine a newspaper–either in print or online–without photographs. But perhaps one day they’ll be a thing of the past as well, with holographic moving images accompanying the biggest news of the day, like something straight out of Harry Potter.