This is a terrific resource for history buffs. You can follow news stories as they happened, look up front pages for the day you were born, the days your parents and grandparents were born, and so on. What's great about following consecutive front pages is that you can follow not only the major stories day to day, but also the slightly less important stories that were unfolding simultaneously.
Three DVDs contain all (well, not all -- see below) front pages since the Times began publishing in September 1851. The pages are all in PDF format (one PDF file per month), so if you have Acrobat Reader on your computer, as most people do, you don't need to install any special software.
The product isn't perfect, though.
One: there are missing front pages. In fact, I've had the product for just two days and I've already found two entire months missing: May 1926 and September 1994. If you click on those months, you see the pages for the wrong year. I also saw that the front page for June 17, 1971, is missing -- which was at the height of the Pentagon Papers crisis, a very important period for the Times! It makes me wonder what else might be missing. I hope the publishers will issue replacement DVDs or a downloadable patch to fix the various errors.
Two: for some reason, many PDF files have days out of order. This is not a problem if you click on the date for an individual page, but if you want to use the arrow keys or your mouse's scroll wheel to scroll through consecutive days' pages, you can't always do that. Sometimes the first page in the file is for, say, the 19th day of the month, and then later the file skips from day 18 to another day. It would have been better if they had put all pages in correct chronological order in each month's file.
Three: when you click on the masthead of a front page, it's supposed to take you to the Times website and bring up a list of front page articles for that day. But sometimes when you click on a masthead it brings you to the wrong day's articles.
Four: the text of the articles is blurry and not always easy to read, no matter how much you magnify the text. This is odd, because the PDFs of the exact same articles on the Times website are much clearer and easier to read. It's not a problem on the front pages that are in color (the Times front page has been in color since October 16, 1997). Those are much clearer.
As for the book that accompanies the DVDs -- it's terrific. It includes important front pages over the last 150 years, including full-size foldouts of the following events:
* Lee's surrender at Appomattox
* Lincoln assassination
* San Francisco earthquake of 1906
* Titanic sinks
* Russian czar abdicates
* World War I armistice
* Scopes trial
* Lindbergh's flight
* 1929 stock market crash
* FDR inaugurated
* Pearl Harbor
* Brown v. Board of Education
* 1963 March on Washington
* Kennedy assassination
* Moon landing
* Nixon resigns
* War in Iraq begins
Despite the missing page files, this is still a great product at a great price. Hopefully they'll take steps to fix the problems for those of us who have already bought the product.