In 1936 publisher Henry Luce paid $92,000 to the owners of Life magazine because he sought the name for Time Inc. Wanting only the old Life’s name in the sale, Time Inc. sold Life’s subscription list, features, and goodwill to Judge. Convinced that pictures could tell a story instead of just illustrating text, Luce launched Life on November 23, 1936. The third magazine published by Luce, after Time in 1923 and Fortune in 1930, Life gave birth to the photo magazine in the U.S., giving as much space and importance to pictures as to words. The first issue of Life, which sold for ten cents (approximately USD $1.48 in 2007) featured five pages of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s pictures.
When the first issue of Life magazine appeared on the newsstands, the U.S. was in the midst of the Great Depression and the world was headed toward war. Adolf Hitler was firmly in power in Germany. In Spain, General Francisco Franco’s rebel army was at the gates of Madrid; German Luftwaffe pilots and bomber crews, calling themselves the Condor Legion, were honing their skills as Franco’s air arm. Italy under Benito Mussolini annexed Ethiopia. Luce ignored tense world affairs when the new Life was unveiled: the first issue depicted the Fort Peck Dam in Montana photographed by Margaret Bourke-White.