On January 22, 1996, the New York Times unveiled its new online edition at nytimes.com, offering readers access to "much of what the newspaper has published the previous week and access to feature articles from as far back as 1980." Prior to the launch of nytimes.com, the Times' content had been available through the @times service at America Online, starting in 1994.
From a 1996 article by Peter H. Lewis introducing readers to the new online portal, a description of the new advertising and subscription model:
Mr. Nisenholtz said that initially, at least, no subscription or access fee would be charged for readers in the United States and that the electronic paper would generate revenue from advertising. Readers who connect to the electronic paper from outside the country will be offered a 30-day trial without charge, but will eventually face a subscription fee.
Advertisers that have already announced participation on the Web site include Toyota Motor Corporate Services, Chemical Bank and the Northeast real estate concern Douglas Elliman.
Subscribers will have limited access to archives of Times articles and features dating to 1980, and will be able to copy articles to their own computers for $1.95 each, Mr. Nisenholtz said.
The new service will also offer, for a fee, a customized clipping service that delivers to a subscriber's electronic mailbox articles gleaned from each day's editions of the newspaper, based on key words the subscriber selects.
With its entry on the Web, The Times is hoping to become a primary information provider in the computer age and to cut costs for newsprint, delivery and labor. Companies that have established Web-based information sites include television networks, computer companies, on-line information services, magazines and even individuals creating electronic newspapers of their own.