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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
The Times

England's oldest daily newspaper (Ireland has the oldest in the country, with the *Belfast News Letter, and Scotland follows with the *Press and Journal). It was founded by John Walter and was first published in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register; the name was changed to The Times in 1788. It pioneered a new technology in 1814 when it became the first newspaper to be printed on a steam press, capable of producing 1100 sheets an hour; the machines were installed secretly in a nearby building for fear of a *Luddite response by the printers.

At that time the paper was strongly committed to the Tories, but its hostile coverage of the *Peterloo massacre in 1819 signalled a change of direction. In 1830 a vigorous leader in support of political reform earned it the nickname of 'The Thunderer'; the editor had urged that 'the people, the people everywhere, come forward and petition, nay thunder for reform'. Gradually during the 19C the paper established itself as the main national forum of information, not only for its news coverage but for a court page where society announced family births, marriages and deaths, and a letters page where people of importance aired their views.

In 1966 Roy Thomson, already owner of the *Sunday Times, purchased the Times and thus brought together two titles which had long seemed, incorrectly, to be sister publications. During the Thomson ownership both titles suffered from disastrous industrial relations, and a strike by print unions in November 1978 kept them out of circulation for nearly a year. In 1981 his son, Kenneth Thomson, sold them to Rupert Murdoch, whose move of the printing and editorial operations to a computerized plant at *Wapping in 1986 was prepared with as much secrecy as the introduction of the steam presses a century and a half earlier. The change, this time, was not achieved so peacefully. But the violent confrontations were followed by the introduction of new technology throughout the newspaper industry.

There has been a convention in British typography that newspapers should be printed with the definite article in roman type – the Observer or the Sun – but that The Times is an exception. The reason is given in *Hart's Rules, dating from the 1890s, where it is explained that The Times 'prefers to have it so'. This seems insufficient reason to perpetuate the inconsistency.

The Times has some long-established offshoots in its famous supplements, in particular the *TLS and the Times Educational Supplement (first published in 1910).

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