Watch National Geographic’s Magazine Cover Change Over 130 Years

If there’s one magazine that is recognised around the globe, it has to be the illustrious yellow-bordered National Geographic. But this renowned look we’ve come to know and love has evolved dramatically over the magazine’s 130 years to its current form. This short video from NatGeo beautifully depicts the transformation.

In just under two minutes, we are taken on a tour of each and every cover in the magazine’s history. The video begins with the first publication of 1888, that contained just six articles ranging from theories on the cycle of erosion, to a gigantic snow storm that occured in March of that year.

Not only that, but the iconic yellow border didn’t appear until as late as 1910. Another glaring difference to the modern covers is the lack of any emblematic cover images that have enshrined National Geographic in magazine history for years.

These first made an appearance 70 years after the magazine was founded, in July 1959. Those with a keen eye will notice some of the legendary covers, such as the Afghan Girl portrait by Steve McCurry.

Throughout the video magazine milestones are plucked out and given special attention – such as Jane Goodall’s study of chimps in Tanzania, and the uncovering of the Titanic shipwreck.

In the description, National Geographic affirm that although the magazine has changed in appearance over the years, they are yet to waiver from their dedication “to explore the world and all that’s in it.”

This video follows last year’s news that National Geographic may be acquired by Disney in a potential deal with 21st Century Fox. At roughly 6.7 million subscribers, Disney would take ownership of a 73% stake – what this means for the magazine’s future is, at present, unknown.

That said, this video is a wonderful tribute to the magazine, and a testament to all those involved in its celebrated history.


Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.