Timeline: a history of magazines

1586-1949 ; 1950-1969 ; 1970-1989 (this page) ; 1990-

Events influencing the development of the modern magazine. These four pages also list developments in technology, distribution and corporate strategy as well as the influence of periodicals on culture.

1970 Harper's Bazaar and Queen merge as Harper's & Queen
IPC sells Sun to Rupert Murdoch. Topless Page 3 girl introduced
IPC acquired by Reed Group Ltd, a newsprint, paints and wallpaper combine, making Reed the 30th biggest UK company
After a series of launches and acquisitions, Emap has evolved into a group with nine magazines and 19 newspapers
Rolling Stone, 8 December. John Lennon tells Jann Wenner what effect the Beatles had on the history of Britain: 'We've grown up a little, all of us, and there has been a change and we are a bit freer and all that, but it's the same game, nothing's really changed. They're doing exactly the same things, selling arms to South Africa, killing blacks on the street, people are living in fucking poverty with rats crawling over them, it's the same. It just makes you puke. And I woke up to that, too. The dream is over. It's just the same only I'm thirty and a lot of people have got long hair, that's all.'
TV Times claims to be 'the most used weekly colour magazine in Britain' on the strength of selling 3,125,000 copies a week with a readership of 10,224,000.
1971 Infamous Oz trial. Publishers of underground magazine Oz – Richard Neville (who launched the original Oz in Australia), Felix Dennis (late founder of Dennis Publishing and owner of Maxim publishing empire) and Jim Anderson – were prosecuted for conspiracy under UK's Obscene Publications Act 1959 over 'sexually perverted cartoons and articles' in the School Kids Issue (issue 28, May 1970). Sentences of up to 15 months sparked protests from John Lennon and many others. The convictions were quashed on appeal. Oz sales rose to 80,000 but the magazine closed in 1973 (issue 48). Official papers released in 1999 showed that the authorities held an inquiry into the accusation that police were prosecuting hippie publications such as Oz and the Little Red Schoolbook while Soho pornographers paid bribes to avoid jail. The resulting anti-corruption drive saw the jailing of the senior officer responsible for the magazine's prosecution; 400 other officers were imprisoned or left the force.
– Oz links and covers http://www.wussu.com/zines/oz01_04.htm
US title Saturday Evening Post comes back to life as a journal with a health focus. First as a quarterly, then twice a month. Now published by the Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society
1972 Cosmopolitan UK is first international edition. Under Joyce Hopkirk; had been reformulated by Helen Gurley Brown (author of Sex and the Single Girl) in US. Goes on to become world's best-selling woman's magazine – and best seller in UK until arrival of Glamour in 2002
Feminist monthly Spare Rib launched by Marsh Rowe and Rosie Boycott. WH Smith refused to stock it. Grew out of underground press
Gloria Steinem's Ms – a women's lib magazine – launched (US)
US magazine Life closes with a bumper issue on December 29, despite having had a circulation of 8.5m copies just two years earlier. The loss of advertising to TV and the high cost of postage were blamed for four years of losses
1973 Financial Times starts printing international edition in Frankfurt, Germany
1974 People launches with Mia Farrow cover (US)
UK edition of Rolling Stone (until 1982)
1976 Filipacchi expands by buying Paris-Match from Prouvost group
First Apple computer
IPC launches home video division
1977 Comag distribution company formed by Condé Nast and National Magazines
IPC launches 2000 AD, introducing Judge Dredd in the second issue
Private Eye loses criminal libel case brought by James Goldsmith, which costs it more than £100,000. Magazine launches fund to raise money to prevent closure – the Goldenballs fund 
1978 Angelo Zgorelec launches Personal Computer World
Company launched
Cosmo Man launched but fails
L'Echo des Savanes launches in France
1979 Smash Hits launched by Emap. Concept of weekly pop magazine by Nick Logan
Reed International Ltd at its height as a conglomerate, owning: IPC Ltd; Mirror Group Newspapers; Odhams (Watford) printers; IPC Printers; Hamlyn and Butterworths book publishers; Reed Paper; and wallpaper and building products manufacturers. IPC Magazines published 69 weekly and monthly titles, 22 of them for women. These included Woman, Woman's Own, Woman's Realm and Woman's Weekly – the top four weeklies, selling 5 million copies a week. IPC nicknamed  'Ministry of Magazines' because of its market clout
Now!, a weekly news magazine, launched by Cavenham Communications, controlled by Sir James Goldsmith. Hit 410,000 sales before closing in 1981 with losses of £6m
1980 Nick Logan launches The Face at Wagadon, using his own money after Emap turns the idea down. Designed by Neville Brody. Strong music base; develops into fashion bible for the 1980s
Margaret Thatcher portrayed on the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine supplement as Joan of Arc at the end of her first year as prime minister; seen as the start of a cosy relationship with Rupert Murdoch (owner of the Times, Sunday Times , News of the World and the Sun, the UK's biggest-selling daily). HarperCollins, another Murdoch company, later published her memoirs
High Life in-flight magazine by Highgate Publications for British Airways. Regarded as first contract title
1981 BBC/Acorn Microcomputer and IBM PC launched
Lagardere buys Hachette in France
Computer & Video Games launched by Emap: claims to be world’s first games magazine. Finally closed by Future in 2004, though website lived on and became part of Games Radar. www.computerandvideogames.com
Magazine supplements launched by Sunday Express and News of the World
to top
1982 Computer magazines, such as Acorn User at Addison-Wesley in London, start to use e-mail systems and online bulletin boards, in this case Dialcom
December: Your Computer editor Toby Wolpe invents cover disc – a 33.3 rpm vinyl single holding Sinclair ZX81 games
1983 Redwood Publishing founded by Michael Potter (former publisher of advertising trade weekly Campaign), Christopher Ward (former editor of Daily Express newspaper) and Christopher Curry (joint founder of Acorn Computer, makers of the BBC Micro). Takes over Acorn User from Addison-Wesley as first published title. Establishes contract publishing industry with titles such as Expression! for American Express, InterCity for British Rail, M&S for Marks and Spencer, and Business Solutions for Unisys
Time magazine names computer as "Man of the Year"
Emap launches Micronet online bulletin board, which reaches 1m subscribers. Magazines and individuals set up own pages on the Prestel-based system. Thousands of computer users run own boards from home using BBC Micros and modems.
Derek Birdsall, who art-directed Town, Nova and Twen and later The Independent Magazine and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine appointed Royal Designer for Industry by the RSA
Advance resurrects Vanity Fair and buys Gentleman's Quarterly
Vanity Fair launches a second time in US
1984 Advance adds Tatler and World of Interiors to Condé Nast stable in UK
Hackers break into Prince Philip's electronic mail on Emap's Micronet

Apple Macintosh launched and IBM PC AT
Reed International sells Mirror group newspapers to Robert Maxwell for £90m to concentrate on academic journals, magazines and books (even though in 1973 government inspectors had said Maxwell could not be trusted to exercise 'proper stewardship' of a publicly quoted company)
Redwood Publishing sells all typewriters to run company on network of Acorn's BBC Microcomputers
The Times launches educational bulletin board and e-mail system for schools, TTNS (The Times Network for Schools) based on British Telecom's Dialcom technology
Private Eye's 'Spot the worthless Czech' cover of Robert Maxwell
to top
1985 Postscript-based software, such as Aldus Pagemaker and Adobe Illustrator running on the Apple Macintosh, allied to laser printers, herald the advent of desktop publishing. This revolutionises production of magazines and newspapers
The Hackers Handbook by Hugo Cornwall is a bestseller
Advance buys New Yorker
For Him distributed through men's fashion outlets by Chris Astridge. Sold from newsagents as a quarterly in spring 1987
1986 At £399, Amstrad 1512 puts PC within reach of home buyers in the UK. Creates huge market for PC magazines, led by Dennis's PC Shopper. PC standard sounds death knell for 'user' magazines
Acorn User publishes program written by quantum computing pioneer David Deutsch
Nick Logan's Wagadon launches men's quarterly Arena. Designed by Neville Brody
Today, first colour newspaper, launched by Eddy Shah
Gruner & Jahr enters UK market with monthly Prima
Robert Maxwell launches one-off spoof tabloid Not Private Eye to celebrate and publicise winning £55,000 in libel trial against Private Eye, which had suggested Maxwell had tried to bribe his way to a peerage. Maxwell gave his account of the trial in a book, Malice in Wonderland. Christmas cover of Private Eye showed Maxwell holding a writ and a sack, saying 'Happy Christmas to you all'. Maxwell became notorious for his legal actions but – like the swindling John Bull publisher Horatio Bottomley 70 years earlier – his crooked ways were revealed after his death (1991)
1987 Quark Xpress DTP package launched. Overshadows Pagemaker, forming 'holy trinity' of publishing software on Macintosh: Quark; Photoshop; and Illustrator
Voluntary ban on tobacco advertising covers 27 magazines – including Horse & Pony, Jackie and Vogue – because of the size of their readership among women aged 15-24
Wendy Henry becomes News of the World editor
Eve Pollard becomes Sunday Mirror editor
Robert Maxwell launches London Daily News as a 24-hour paper
German publishers challenge the dominance of IPC's weeklies with Best (Gruner & Jahr) and Bella (Bauer)
Zeebrugge ferry disaster. Operator Townsend Thoresen withdraws all advertising
Furore over Margaret Thatcher's 'no such thing as society' remark in Woman's Own ('Aids, education and the year 2000!' by Douglas Keay, 31 October 1987, pp8-10)
1988 Diane Abbott is first black woman elected to UK parliament
Spanish Hola! launches as Hello! Marks start of fawning approach to celebrities, who are paid for their pictures and given veto over them before publication
Reed subsidiary Carlton launches upmarket fashion weekly Riva but closes it within 6 months and the company is put under the control of another Reed arm, IPC
IPC responds to German incursions with Essentials. Also forms European Magazines Ltd, a joint venture with Groupe Marie Claire to launch the UK edition. Essentials launched in France by Groupe Marie Claire as Avantages
Nick Logan sells 40 per cent of Wagadon (The Face and Arena) to Condé Nast to fund expansion of the latter and launches of short-lived Frank and Deluxe
New Scientist prints hologram of Newton on cover
1989 Time merges with Warner
Vogue uses bar codes on front cover
Condé Nast brings GQ to the UK
UK government plans to deregulate TV and radio listings. BBC responds to threat to revenue by taking over contract publisher Redwood. IPC buys TV Times, which it had published under licence, from broadcasters
Hearst Magazines International founded to exploit brands such as Cosmopolitan

1586-1949 ; 1950-1969 ; 1970-1989 (this page) ; 1990-
To top