by Richard McKinstry

Philadelphia printers Benjamin Franklin and Andrew Bradford vied to issue America's pioneer magazine. Through a bit of stealth, Bradford won out with his American Magazine, or a Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies, the first issue of which was published just three days before Franklin's General Magazine in 1741. The periodical press in the United States developed from this time, but not along a straight line, for it would be impossible to name a typical American magazine. There probably have been as many as there are personal interests and professions. Pulp magazines have existed alongside scholarly quarterlies, National Geographic Magazine is on the store shelf near the New Yorker, and as we enter a new millennium, Reader's Digest and Playboy survive, appealing to two very different audiences. Historian James P. Wood concluded, "the magazine today is not essentially different from the magazine in 1741. The magazine is, as it has been, a vehicle for communication among people, a medium for the transmission of facts, ideas, and fancies."

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