More than a decade before the New York Times began trial of an electronic newspaper device in 2006, the Knight-Ridder's Information Design Laboratory had been working on its own prototype of the newspaper of the future. Roger Fidler, the lab's director, was "betting that a portable, battery-powered flat panel, or what he calls a "personal information appliance," will become the main vehicle for newspaper, magazine and book publishers. He says the tablet – which will be about two pounds, a half-inch thick and roughly the same dimensions as this magazine – could begin replacing newspapers by 2001 and serve half of the country's newspaper readers by 2010 with highly readable multimedia, digital displays." (American Journalism Review, 1994).
Roger Fidler, who now works as Program Director for Digital Publishing at the University of Missouri, has been working on electronic newspapers since at least 1991 when "he created the first prototype electronic newspaper designed specifically for viewing on magazine-size tablets" while at Columbia University (source). With the popularization of devices such as Kindle, he is finally seeing "the breakthrough years approaching".
In 1997, Fidler published a forward-looking book Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media. Would be an interesting reading now.
A few related articles I picked up on the way:
- NYTimes, September7, 2008: "New E-Newspaper Reader Echoes Look of the Paper"
- Crosscut, November 30, 2007: "How an electronic newspaper could become profitable"
- IHT, March 16, 1994: "U.S. Newspapers Rush to Get On-Line"
- And some results from the electronic newspaper test by Belgian De Tijd in 2006.
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Keywords: electronic ink, e-ink, eink