100 years of Time magazine: the impact of the first issue and the most iconic covers

TIME’s collage to celebrate its 100 years

TIME, the American magazine famous for its iconic covers and for assigning the coveted title of person of the year, will be 100 years old next Friday. To celebrate it, and on the eve of unveiling the Women of the Year 2023the magazine published a special issue in which it covers its ten centuries of life from the first historic edition of the March 3, 1923.

“This number is, for all of us who work in TIMEextraordinarily special. Publishing 100 years since our brand was born as a 32-page weekly, it is a marker of constancy and change,” they wrote in an editorial. Jessica Sibley and Edward Felsenthalrespectively CEO and general editor of the magazine.

The special recalls the impact that the first issue of TIMEwith the “front page story” on the upcoming retirement of the legendary Republican lawmaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon.

The launch of TIME It was disruptive for the time, since for the first time a medium that was defined as “Weekly News Magazine” appeared. Nothing like it existed until then, with an ingenious arrangement of all the world’s news into ordered categories.

The note about Cannon also already had the bold style that would characterize the magazine for the next 100 years. “Never did a man hold the office of Speaker of the House,” he wrote. TIME about Cannon, “with less regard for his theoretical impartiality.”

TIME Magazine
March 23, 1923: TIME’s first cover, starring Republican lawmaker “Uncle Joe” Cannon

Cannon’s choice for the cover, the magazine explained, reflected the conviction of its creators Harry Luce and Britton Hadden “that people not only make news, but make history, destiny as a personality, and so that week and every week to come for decades, it would almost always be a person or people who would star in the cover of TIME”.

A century after that first cover, to celebrate the anniversary the magazine chose a cover made up of 144 images selected among the more than 5,000 issues published to date and which includes at least one cover from each of the last 100 years.

TIME Magazine 100 Years

It also includes all 18 US presidents since the founding of TIMEstarting by Warren G Harding, who appeared the second number of TIME in 1923. Richard Nixonwhich holds the record for covers (55), appears four times.

Iconic covers also appear, such as the one titled “Is God dead?”dated April 8, 1966. The latter was the first cover without an image and is considered one of the most memorable of TIME.

TIME Magazine - One Hundred Years - Iconic Covers
The cover “Is God Dead?” on April 8, 1966. It was the first without a photo

There are also two commemorative portals, which mark the death of Steve Jobs (2011) and kobe ​​bryant (2020), and a handful of breaking events, since the space shuttle disaster challenger in 1986 until the attack on the September 11, 2001 in New York, taken by photographer lyle owerko from his Tribeca apartment when he heard the sound of the American Airlines plane crashing into the neighboring World Trade Center tower.

TIME Magazine - One Hundred Years - Iconic Covers
The photo taken on September 11, 2001 by photographer Lyle Owerko

Among the covers that TIME cited among his most iconic also appear the Dalai Lama of April 20, 1959, the one about the election of “You” as Person of the Year, the one who showed the world the mutilated face of the Afghan woman Aisha Mohammedzai in 2010 and the -very controversial- about the Breastfeeding of 2012.

TIME Magazine - One Hundred Years - Iconic Covers
The photo of Aisha Mohammadzai, which appeared in TIME on August 9, 2010, became the symbol of the war in Afghanistan

In the collage for the 100 years there are also large writers (JD Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neill), musicians (Aretha Franklin, Adele, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Michael Jackson), architects (Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller), athletes (Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali) and icons (Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin). There are scientists, thinkers and explorers (Albert Einstein, John Glenn, Jacques Cousteau).

The collage explained TIMEshows how the artists and photographers used almost every medium to bring the covers to life: charcoal and gouache portraits, black-and-white portrait photography and watercolors, screen printing, and 360-degree photography.

“Although this image represents less than 3% of all the covers of TIME published,” the magazine wrote, “each of its parts serves to recall some of the most influential moments of the last 100 years”.

Keep reading:

Time magazine named Zelensky its person of the year and recognized the struggle of women in Iran

The 10 biggest global risks by 2023, according to Time magazine