(CNN) — On August 30, 1995, CNN set up a new website, CNN Interactive. The website, now called CNN.com, served as a major transformation in how CNN delivered news: Instead of one story at a time on TV, CNN delivered hundreds, and then thousands of stories to users on its website.
CNN is now the largest digital news destination in the world, with more than 214 million global users in June, according to Comscore. People engage with CNN’s journalism on phones, tablets, watches, computers, apps, social media, podcasts, smart speakers and a number of other devices and platforms.
Although the majority of CNN’s audience is now digital, 25 years ago, the Web was hardly a sure bet. At the time, CNN was selling CD-ROMs about topical news events — as far more people at the time had CD drives than internet connections.
CNN anchor Brian Nelson introduced the website on his show, “CNN Computer Connection” in the most ’90s way possible:
“CNN’s cyberspace newsstand opened up for business this past week,” Nelson said in a 1995 telecast. “On it you can find details of the top stories of the day, the latest in business news, along with sports scores and a look at weather around the world. Plus, you can review stories you see here on the CNN Computer Connection and other CNN programs as well — in some cases, complete sound or video, and links to other webpages.”
CNN Interactive was among the pioneers of the World Wide Web. It went online around the same time eBay was brought to life as AuctionWeb and just months after “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web” became Yahoo.
Among the first stories CNN Interactive covered was the OJ Simpson murder trial. Also on the homepage on CNN’s internet debut 25 years ago: “Critics warn of multimedia ‘hell'” and “The hazards of driving and dialing.” Remember when talking on your phone was the most dangerous thing you could do with a cell phone while behind the wheel?
The lead story read, “CNN debuts today on the Worldwide Web with its own homepage accessing thousands of pages of data. The news can be accessed from a home or work computer and is continuously updated.”
CNN knew it had a hit in 1996 during the presidential election — the first to be covered by internet news sites, according to Scott Teissler, Turner’s chief technology officer at the time.
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