The very first issues of 17 famous magazines
These magazines have come a long way since Volume 1, Issue 1
Date: March 3, 1923
The cover was a portrait of House Speaker Joseph G. Cannon. Content consisted of short news bulletins, an ad for All America Cables ("when time is short and minutes count use the direct cable facilities to Central America, South America, Cuba, Porto Rico other West Indies") and, strangely, imaginary interviews with Jack Dempsey, the boy Emperor of China, John D. Rockefeller, and Princess Yolanda of Italy.
Date: Match 4, 1974
The cover nods to Mia Farrow's role in The Great Gatsby and William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist ("a sermon nobody sleeps through"). Inside, the story of a female bail bondsman and a particularly insensitive item from the Medics column called "Two Fatties get a new kind of lock jaw" about two overweight women who had their mouths cemented shut in order to lose weight.
Date: March/April 1993
"The Rolling Stone of technology" published its first issue in early 1993 with a feature about war tech, a piece on what life would be like if our appliances had computer chip brains, and a jarringly prescient look at "libraries without walls for books without pages" a full decade before ebooks were a thing people had heard of. The full issue was released on iPad in 2013 for Wired's 20th anniversary.
Date: April 8, 1968
On the cover, "Tom Wolfe Tells if You're a Honk or a Wonk," and inside, ads for Chut-Nut (an "exotic colonial chutney") and Canada's plot to conquer the U.S. with their refreshing Red Rose Tea.
Date: August 16, 1954
The cover was a photo titled "Night Baseball in Milwaukee," showing slugger Eddie Matthews mid-swing. "Duel of the Four Minute Men: Bannister surges to victory in the heart-stirring Vancouver mile" was the big story, but the best feature was an ad for A. Harris Company Velvet Jeans: "With rhinestones flashing, our famous jeans salute the Wonderful World of Sport." Available in Italian twill-back velveteen with black, red, royal, peacock blue, or tangerine(!) stitching for only $17.95.
Date: December 1953
Hugh Hefner and his friend, Eldon Sellers, sold 53,991 copies of the first Playboy from a makeshift office in Hef's kitchen. The magazine, which was undated because no one knew if there would be a second, was enormously popular... thanks in no small part to Marilyn Monroe, who graced both the cover and the centerfold. And the articles, too, which everyone read.
Date: July/August 1988
The Konami Code! A guide to beating Mike Tyson! The names of all the Metroid weapons! It's all here. Nintendo's magazine had a good run, but shut down last year.
Date: Feb. 21, 1925
The New Yorker's covers have been graced by the visage of dandy Eustace Tilley (nearly) every anniversary since 1926. The character was created for the magazine by Rea Irvin for the first issue. Also in that issue: short fiction (including "Say it with Scandal" and "The Story of Manhattankind"), a few pieces of nonfiction, and the magazine's famous cartoons.
Date: Autumn 1933
The first issue laid out the magazine's editorial mission: "Esquire aims to become the common denominator of masculine interests — to be all things to all men." The mag featured work by Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett and John Dos Passos, instructions on how to order properly at a restaurant, tips for achieving the perfect putt, and an essay titled "What a married man should know (About doing the marketing and getting his own breakfast and ducking all trouble in general)."
Date: November 9, 1967
Rolling Stone's first cover was much less controversial than their latest: It featured a photo from story about the Monterey Pop Festival and a brief mention of the Grateful Dead ("a photographic look at a rock 'n roll group after a dope bust"), with John Lennon in "How I Won the War" on the cover. In 1967, a subscription was $5 for 6 months or $10 per year.
Date: Feb. 17, 1933
The magazine formerly known as News-week started off with a snooze, featuring a compelling lead story titled "Easing Burdens of Debt and Foreclosure: Mortgagers, Ignoring Law, soon force virtual moratoria; Legislatures Prompt to Act; Congress Considers Measures for Early Relief of Hard Pressed Farmers, other home owners." In a clever ploy to get people to actually purchase the magazine, they put Nazis on the cover.
Date: November 23, 1936
On the cover: a photo of Fort Peck Dam. Inside, an article titled "10,000 Montana relief workers make whoopee on Saturday night" and a center spread called "Black Widow," in which readers were reminded that "hardly a week goes by that some newspaper doesn't carry the account of Man Killed by Black Widow Bite. . ."
Date: November 1, 1857
The "Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics" used its first issue to print Sally Parsons Diary, but sadly, no weird ads.
Date: November 1995
The premier issue of Fast Company was ahead of its time, but looks older than its years in retrospect: a lead story about groundbreaking female tech leaders ("A Woman's Place Is in Cyberspace"), a detailed account of "How Netscape Won," and plenty of tips for people who love tech, business, and the ins and outs of corporate ladder-climbing — including a guide to career counselors and advice from the VP of Intel.
Date: March 1998
The inaugural issue of the cable network's magazine featured four athletes they felt defined the next generation: Kobe Bryant (then just 19), Alex Rodriguez, Eric Lindros, and Kordell Stewart.
Date: September 1965
Way back in 1965, a little mag called Lloyd Thaxton's Tiger Beat debuted in the U.S., much to the delight of young ladies who hadn't lost that lovin' feeling for the Righteous Brothers. They shared the cover with a cartoon tiger and nods to The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Mia Farrow and Chuck Berry. Lloyd Thaxton, for his part, was a co-founder and columnist. The magazine lives on in print, on the web, in the App Store. The most current issue features all eleventeen members of One Direction.
Launched at Duke University by Will Pearson (Mental Floss' president) and Mangesh Hattikudur (the magazine's editor-in-chief), the first issue pretty well established the kinds of things we'd cover in the next dozen years: dumb laws, sumo wrestling, and things you can't sell on eBay.
Adrienne Crezo and Bryan Dugan contributed to this story. There's probably going to be a sequel, so leave a comment telling us what other magazines to look up.
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