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Electronic Newspapers are online publications which have replaced newspapers which have only a print edition. Their content is similar to the older newspapers but they differ in that they have no specific daily editions and are not purchased in print form from shops. Instead, they can be downloaded for a fee from a telephone service.
The first British newspaper to introduce an electronic edition was the Times. This was a text-only service due to the limitations of domestic computers of the time - the Sinclair Ambassador, which was the standard computer provided by the Post Office to domestic subscribers at the time, was unable to produce sophisticated images. This changed in the next year with the introduction of the Sinclair Ambassador II, which included a means of displaying high-definition images with text, recording the file automatically and printing the newspaper out.
The most common method of receiving electronic newspapers is to set up a service to receive electronic delivery of a newspaper at a pre-specified time of day, The newspaper publisher then dials all the subscriber numbers simultaneously at that time and the receipt of the call activates the domestic computer tape drives simultaneously with downloading the file representing the newspaper. If the user has chosen to do so, while receiving the newspaper data, the printer will produce a double-sided monochrome edition with capitals and lowercase alphanumeric text on sheets of thermal paper the size of a double-page of the former tabloid newspapers, though some choose to read them on screen. This is then automatically folded by the printer and placed on top. Further editions can be printed directly from the tape without using the computer.
Users who have not received a newspaper for any reason can dial into the service and either pay once or use a password to obtain the newspaper for no additional charge.
On screen, newspapers have a somewhat different appearance to their print equivalents. They do not mix case and the text is displayed overlaid with illustrations, and of course the display is green on black. Memory limitations mean that only one page is generally displayed at a time.
Electronic newspapers are updated constantly and do not generally have daily editions, although there are weekly newspapers which contain completely new content updated in one go.
The last print-only newspaper , which was also the Times, closed down in the seventh year of the Era. One of the motives for producing newspapers in this way was to avoid unionised workers from controlling the production and distribution of newspapers, and many of them became unemployed as a result. It also meant that some newsagents closed down, though they were often able to keep going by selling magazines or groceries. Clearly, paper delivery no longer exists as an option for children to begin employment.
Some electronic newspapers have never had print editions, examples including the English Independent.
To some extent, this means of delivering news is ecologically sound as it has reduced the consumption of paper. However, the thermal paper used has significant environmental impact because of the coating, and since many people choose to print out their newspapers to read on public transport or take to work, this is not as great a saving as might be thought. Moreover, since they are sometimes retained on tape long-term, it has rather increased the consumption of storage media. The transport costs of doing this are more or less the same because the same quantities of materials are still shipped to people's houses, although the paper is lighter.
A positive result of this method of production is that small local newssheets and newsletters can be produced inexpensively and broadcast or narrowcast to people who have chosen to receive them. Some magazines are also produced in this way, either exclusively or with monochrome online editions and colour print versions.
The system was later adapted to deliver electronic books, though these are also found in other formats.