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Newspaper History
THE Observer was first launched as a broadsheet free paper in June 1985, saying to readers: "Tell us and we'll tell ". The first front page is pictured right.

The newspaper, sister paper of The Watford Observer, started with city centre offices in Adelaide Street in the early days of the M25 and when the Maltings shopping centre was still being built.

The Observer follows a long tradition of quality local papers - The Watford Observer was first published on January 15, 1863, by Samuel Alexander Peacock, son of Watford printer and bookbinder John Peacock, one of the founders of the town's printing industry in the early 19th Century.

Coming into the more recent 20th Century, the Observer and The Watford Observer were among the first regional newspapers to introduce direct input. Reporters keyed copy on computers rather than typing it out and then handing it to copytakers to rekey.

More progress was made in 1994 when computer setting was introduced, allowing sub editors to create the news pages directly on computer screens.

During its life, the Observer turned tabloid, as pictured right, and then was relaunched as a paid-for broadsheet, its current format, in September 1998. The first new-look broadsheet front page appears below. There are two editions, the Observer and Harpenden's own newspaper, the Harpenden Observer.

The Observer offices, where the paper is put together, are in , , on the Valley Road industrial estate.

Limited Edition, an upmarket community lifestyle magazine, joined the portfolio of titles in May 1995, and there are now three editions produced.

The first owner of the Observer was the Westminster Press division of Pearson, which owned the Financial Times.

In 1996, Westminster Press was sold to Newsquest. The new owners bought the Review Group of titles in and Watford in May 1998 and the Review and Observer share offices in .

The Review was launched on October 4, 1973 - the first free newspaper in and one of the first "freebies" in the country. Today the series includes the Review, with an edition for Harpenden, Welwyn and Hatfield Review and Watford Review with a combined circulation of 102,000, as well as leading local property weekly Property Review.

A strong community-based newspaper, Review launched the Review Half Marathon road race in 1981, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2001 after raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for local charities.

Sponsorship of the Review Sunday Football League, now sponsored by the Observer and Review, began in 1978 and the league is now one of the biggest amateur soccer organisations in Hertfordshire. The Review gained third place in the Free Newspaper of the Year category in the 1997 national Newspaper Awards.

The Review series was jointly founded by Alan Drake and Roy Scott; Alan Drake and his brother Phil Drake were both directors when the group was acquired by Newsquest in 1998.

Newsquest was in turn acquired by Gannett, the biggest publisher in the United States of America, in 1999.

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