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NEW YORK _ For those who believe that in the good old days _ before calculators, before computers _ people were better at mental arithmetic, The New York Times offers a sobering New Year’s message: Not necessarily.
On Feb. 6, 1898, it seems, someone preparing the next day’s front page tried to add 1 to the issue number in the upper left corner (14,499) and came up with 15,000. Apparently no one noticed, because the 500-issue error persisted until Friday (No. 51,753). Saturday The Times turns back the clock to correct the sequence: this issue is No. 51,254.
Thus an article on March 14, 1995, celebrating the arrival of No. 50,000 was 500 days premature. It should have appeared on July 26, 1996.
As for the other number on the front page _ the volume, in Roman numerals _ it remains CXLIX. It will change to CL on Sept. 18, when The Times enters its 150th year.NYT-01-01-00 0021EST &QL;