As It Happened: AP Wire Copy of the JFK Assassination

Fifty years ago, mobile devices, Twitter, and Instagram didn't exist, but the basic technologies of transmitting voice, text, and image electronically were well-established. Reporters in far-flung news bureaus could broadcast text through teletypesetter machines, and images via wirephoto machines, approaching real-time reporting of breaking events. When President John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, Associated Press staffer James Altgens was photographing the motorcade, and became an eyewitness. His quick phone call to the AP's Dallas bureau became the first news bulletin about the shooting distributed across the AP's teletypesetter circuit. Hours of frantic reporting followed, supplying newspapers and broadcasters with information as events unfolded. If news is the first draft of history, then these pages of raw wire copy are pieces of the rough draft.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Chris Gunn / NASA

    Building the World's Most Powerful Telescope

    Photos of the long, painstaking construction process of the $8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in early 2019.

  • Ramzi Haidar / AFP / Getty

    Photos: Looking Back at the War in Iraq, 15 Years After the U.S. Invaded

    Fifteen years ago, the bombs started falling on Baghdad. While the invasion was quick, the Iraq War was anything but.

  • Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: The Sydney Skinny, a Glacial Arch, Pelicans at Play

    Skijoring in Montana, a Russian presidential candidate in Moscow, a walkout against gun violence across the U.S., the stark and lonely route of a German volunteer mailman, and more.

  • Olivier Morin / AFP / Getty

    Photos: Surfing Norway in Sub-Zero Temperatures

    AFP photographer Olivier Morin recently spent time with surfers above the Arctic Circle on the beaches of Norway’s Lofoten Islands.