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Flashback: Watch people in Times Square react to the 1995 O.J. Simpson verdict

Manhattan pedestrians gathered to watch and parse the ruling years before Facebook and Twitter offered forums for breaking news and opinion.
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/ Source: TODAY

While people throughout the world continue to congregate for breaking-news events, the proliferation of the Internet — especially in the social-media age — forever changed the ways that news is delivered, parsed and shared.

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Evidence of this is obvious in a flashback to Oct. 3, 1995, when New York City pedestrians assembled in Times Square to watch and assess the live ruling of the trial of O.J. Simpson, whom prosecutors accused of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

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In Times Square, billboards for cassette tapes and camera film framed a single Sony Jumbotron, whose sound could be heard via a corresponding radio feed. New Yorkers watched tense courtroom moments from sidewalks, overhangs and building windows. In the moments leading up to the verdict announcement, no one in the NBC News clip appeared to be using cellphones (let alone looking at smartphones), as that technology had been afforded to a relative few at that time.

The jury's controversial verdict of "not guilty" elicited a spectrum of emotions, many of them punctuated with shouts and horn-honking in Midtown Manhattan. News crews gathered to gauge public reaction, years before they could resort to citing Twitter and Facebook as public sounding boards.

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One Times Square cab driver, who'd opened his car door and stepped halfway out of the vehicle, appeared to be jumping for joy. A nearby wayfarer seemed far less enthusiastic, telling NBC News, "I can't believe what's happening to our country." Another pedestrian expressed a different concern: "Although I'm glad that he's free, there's still [the question of] who did it."

Social-media users will have a chance to comment on the trial in a new way Tuesday, when FX's limited series, "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," premieres.

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Follow writer Chris Serico on Twitter.