September 22, 2006 · · Posted by Greg Lloyd

The first public document from the first Hypertext Editing System (Andy van Dam et al, Brown University, 1968) was a press release announcing its own creation. Brown University Public Affairs thought this was very clever. AvD and crew wrote a two page press release, which in the second paragraph claimed to:

"... eliminate the tedious and error prone scissor and pastepost editing procedures used by newspapers ..."

Pastepost? It should have been pastepot. In those days press release's were mailed to newspapers. Andy of course printed several hundred originals directly from HES using the IBM S/360's line printer (with sexy upper/lower case TN print chain). In three days the New York Times ran a story: A 'Flawless' Computer Makes News: an Error, New York Times Jan 5, 1969.

In three weeks, over 200 US papers and the International Herald Tribune ran similar stories. Several wrote wry editorials, including an Uncle Jeb's Cracker Barrel column in a weekly newspaper which cackled that a country editor could teach those Ivy League professors a thing or two about copy editing.

Sigh. No PR has any credibility without at least one obvious error. But misspelling the second word in the title of your own Press Release is a bit much, see:

[Weblog Software Company] Announes Enhanced Version of [Product Name Here] - Sep 18, 2006 posted on their web site. No, not Traction Software!

Original HES photo by Greg Lloyd, 1969

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