How news was delivered aboard a cruise ship in 1998

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Housecleaning yesterday unearthed this miniature 8-page publication called TimesFax, which was delivered to me by the New York Times aboard a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean on May 23, 1998. Measuring 7 by 8.5 inches, it was, as I recall, the only source of news available, and since it lacked a full-service sports section, meant I had to go without the box scores needed to follow my fantasy baseball team (unthinkable today).

Such were the limitations of leisure travel in that primitive era, at least the manner of leisure travel that I could afford.

While the form factor and delivery method were unusual by today’s standards, the headlines were certainly familiar, as the front page featured accounts of both a school shooting and a Clinton scandal, the latter involving the former president as opposed to the future one, of course. That skimpy sports section did include an Associated Press story about the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, meeting in the final of the French Open, marking the first time they had ever met in the final of a professional tournament.

TimesFax would receive a makeover and rebranding three years later. From a Times story:

The New York Times announced yesterday that it was renaming and redesigning TimesFax, its compilation of news articles distributed to hotels, resorts, cruise ships, corporations and Navy ships and bases in more than 60 countries.

The publication will now be called TimesDigest and will offer longer news items, enhanced business coverage and additional sports results and weather forecasts.

The service, which began in 1990 and was originally transmitted to fax machines for corporations and American expatriates in Japan, is now received by more than 600 clients worldwide via e-mail, downloading from the World Wide Web or faxing from a computer.

It apparently still exists under the TimesDigest name today.

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