New Scientist celebrates 50 years with a bumper anniversary issue, which includes freely available classic articles that provide an interesting insight into developments in science and technology over the last 5 decades. There is, for example, an article from 1957 about the first television to be made using etched electrical circuits; a short piece from 1960 about the first clinical trials of oral contraceptives; an article from 1976 about the discovery of enkephalin; and, from 1982, an article about AIDS, which, at the time, was classified as a ‘gay pandemic’.
An article by Nigel Calder from 1966 explains how the magazine got started:
…the first editor, Percy Cudlipp…knew nothing about science [but had a] scheme for a plain-language weekly magazine of science…He had been editor of the London Evening Standard…and…the Daily Herald. But New Scientist became…his greatest pride, the most exciting undertaking of a busy career…The original idea for the magazine came to Maxwell Raison upon reading a press report of a speech in which Sir Winston Churchill pointed out the importance of science and technology to the future of Britain…He joined forces with Nicholas Harrison, a blunt, cheerful man experienced in finance, who became the chairman of the new company…In September, 1956, I first entered the little office building, in a quiet alley leading into Gray’s Inn…The launching date had been fixed for 22 November. London was in the turmoil of the Suez crisis; business was entering a mild depression, and the advertising revenue…was going to be very difficult to secure. But for those of us on the editorial floor such strategic problems seemed remote from the exciting and exacting work of inventing a magazine.