Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The Info Highway - 17 years later

June 5, 2010: 5:40 AM ET

Revisiting a 1993 Time Magazine cover story with the benefit of hindsight

Issue dated April 12, 1993. Image: Time Inc.

I don't know whether to be flattered or embarrassed.

The Producers Guild of America has resurrected a story I wrote for Time Magazine in the spring of 1993 called The Info Highway. The piece, which ran on the cover, made a number of bold predictions about what form the information age might take -- some prescient, some naive, foolish and wrong.

The story is still available in Time's archives here. But it's more fun to read the Producers Guild version, which has been annotated with the benefit of hindsight by Mike Halleen, a product manager at the Disney (DIS) Interactive Media Group who writes a blog called The Hollywood Geek.

The piece was my attempt to reconcile what Time's correspondents were reporting about high-profile interactive TV experiments being built by the phone, satellite and cable companies -- including Time Warner (TWX) -- with what I was learning about the Internet, then a relatively obscure research network with fewer than 15 million users. The story ended up characterizing the Net as the "dark horse" in a race being led by the telcos and cable companies.

In a curious footnote, Walter Isaacson -- the Time editor who ordered up the story, pushed for it to run on the cover and later became Time's managing editor, the chairman of CNN and the president of the Aspen Institute -- is currently writing the authorized biography of Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs.

I expect we'll run into each other at Jobs' WWDC keynote on Monday.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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