The history of LIFE Magazine is a long and varied one, with a few stops and starts along the way. Most of us, though, will remember the periodical’s long, main phase as a photo-journal devoted to lavish pictorial spreads. About 25 years ago, I came into possession of a couple dozen of these vintage magazines, mainly from the 1940s and 50s, and pored over them with fascination. So much forgotten history is enshrined in their pages, each picture an open window into the past.
Looking through them again recently brought to mind just how profoundly the world has changed in, say, the 50 years from 1960 (the year I was born) to now. Some of the huge changes in geopolitics, entertainment, technology, sports, music, literature, science, and social mores have been documented, frame by frame, in LIFE. To get a sense of a 70-year arc of transitions that the world has passed through from 1936 to 2007,check out this compendium of all the LIFE overs during that period.