Note: This post was originally made on February 25, 2008. Then within a few days, the resource disappeared. Just today I noticed that the TimesMachine is back so I am reposting this. Enjoy!
Never mind that whole thinly-sourced-story-about-McCain-
and-the-blond-lobbyist thing. The New York Times has just redeemed itself, by introducing the TimesMachine. "TimesMachine can take you back to any issue from Volume 1, Number 1 of The New-York Daily Times, on September 18, 1851, through The New York Times of December 30, 1922. Choose a date in history and flip electronically through the pages, displayed with their original look and feel."
The Times opened its archives a few months ago, apparently deciding that the potential revenue from click ads would outweigh the loss of access fees to the old Times Select system. The Times archives are a magnificent resource, but the search and navigation features left a lot to be desired. and the articles were served up one at a time. The reader never got the heady sense of exploring a historic newspaper that one gets from rolling the microfilm in the library. (Of course, microfilm is not key word searchable . . . ) TimesMachine presents the newspapers they way they were meant to be read, as a unified whole. It also makes it easier to put events in context.
(Oooops--TimesMachine seems to be down right now, I will post this anyway and perhaps return later to flesh out the post with some specific PNW content.)
UPDATE: It is gone!
I can't find out what happened to TimesMachine, but I am guessing it was just overwhelmed by users and the Times took it off line. Here is hoping that the service will return soon.