Traditionally, the first few days of January is when the influential US magazine TIME issues its ‘Person of the Year’ annual edition. This famous acknowledgement of an individual or group who in the preceding 12 months is adjudged to have made one of the - if not the - biggest impacts on global politics and/or culture, is rewarded with the lead article in TIME going into the New Year.
The TIME Person of the Year has now been running for nearly nine decades. Sifting through the award’s archives, there are several ‘winners’ (for better or worse) which stand out as groundbreaking, one of them being the first and only ‘Machine of the Year’ published on the 3rd January 1983 paying homage to the proliferation of the Personal Computer age. Today, we have picked out 15 notable TIME Person of the Year covers dating from 1928.
The first ‘Man of the Year’ (as it was then called) edition was published on the 2nd January 1928 commemorating the achievements of American aviator Charles Lindbergh who conducted the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic (from New York to Paris) in May 1927.
India’s preeminent freedom fighter against British colonial rule, Mahatma Gandhi was the first non-American to be awarded the TIME Man of the Year accolade (for 1930).
On the 2nd January 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first US President to be handed the acclaimed front cover, although his actual election win was later that year. Roosevelt was also the first person to be awarded ‘Man of the Year’ twice - he in fact ended up with a record holding three acknowledgements.
American socialite Wallis Simpson was the first TIME Woman of the Year. The reason for which was her marriage to Britain’s King Edward VIII in 1936, which was proposed before the completion of Wallis’s second divorce. The couple’s matrimony was widely objected to by authorities across the Commonwealth for religious, political and legal reasons, causing a constitutional crisis for the British Empire which came to an end with King Edward’s abdication in December 1936.
The UK’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was featured as TIME Man of the Half Century on the 2nd January 1950 edition. Churchill had previously received Man of the Year in 1940 after his victory in the Battle of Britain.
1951 saw the first collective recipient of TIME’s Man of the Year. The term G.I. Joe is a renowned reference to the American fighting man, and became a mainstay in popular culture from the early 1960s when the first G.I. Joe action figure toys were produced.
On the 5th January 1953, Queen Elizabeth II became the first Monarch to be featured as TIME’s Person of the Year. Her official coronation was not until later that year, however her reign had already begun following the death of her father, King George VI in February 1952.
Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded TIME Man of the Year for 1963, becoming the first African American to earn the coveted accolade. His legendary “I Have A Dream” speech was made on August 28, 1963 during the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom rally.
The world has often been left dumbfounded by the digital advancements we have made in the 31 years since The Computer was named TIME Machine of the Year on the 3rd January 1983, yet it is still the only man-made product to have climbed to the top of the pile in the award’s history…
… however it is not the only non-human entity to win it. Earth itself - specifically the ‘Endangered Earth’ - won TIME Planet of the Year on the 2nd January 1989 to address the difficulties we face through climate change.
1st January 1990 was the dawn of a new decade, and the first ever recipient of a TIME Person of the Decade was former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev for his efforts towards ending the Cold War.
On the 27th December 1999, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos received the title for his contribution to e-commerce at the height of the Dot-com bubble.
Bezos was not to be the final face on the cover of TIME Magazine before the turn of the millennium, however. On the 31st December 1999 a special TIME Person of the Century edition was dedicated to the work of Albert Einstein.
A unique January 1, 2007 issue of TIME announced the Person of the Year to be simply, ‘You’. Displaying an image of a computer, the front cover read, "You. Yes, you. You control the Information Age. Welcome to your world".
On the 3rd January 2011, Facebook founder and the world’s youngest ever billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg was named TIME Person of the Year at age 26.
The TIME website is a pretty interesting place to kill a few hours. We also found this 30 second clip showing every TIME Person of the Year from Charles Lindbergh in 1927 to President Barack Obama in 2012. You can view the video here.