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Nycon Program Book heading by Frank R. Paul, courtesy of Thrilling Wonder Stories.

Cardboard placard displayed in New York City just before Nycon. Printed by Conrad H. Ruppert, a fan of the 1930s noted for the excellence of his publications.

Nycon, the First Worldcon, was held Sunday, July 2–Tuesday, July 4, 1939, at Caravan Hall in New York. GoH: Frank R. Paul. Chairman: Sam Moskowitz.

The organizers of the 1939 Worldcon simply called it the "World Science Fiction Convention." It was subsequently called "Nycon" (a nickname Forry Ackerman claimed to have coined) and "The 1939 Worldcon." "Fifth Eastern" was tagged on it by detractors. About 200 fans attended.

The convention was controlled by a so-called 'Ruling Triumvirate' of Moskowitz, William S. Sykora and James V. Taurasi. In the Exclusion Act (which see), they kept some members of the Futurians from attending after a long history of feuding between the club and the concom, exacerbated when Dave Kyle (who wasn’t banned) anonymously created A Warning!, a somewhat incendiary pamflet. He had hidden the copies, but the Triumvirs found it.

One event held at the First Worldcon did not become a Tradition: A softball game.

NYCon did not select a site for the next Worldcon — it had not occurred to the NYCon committee that it could possibly be an annual event. But fandom loved it, and a few months later, at Philcon 1939, the fans present voted to hold another Worldcon in 1940 in Chicago. See 1940 Worldcon Site Selection.

The convention drew disdainful coverage from Time magazine, whose uncredited reporter called the teenaged fen the “jitterbugs of the pulp magazine field,” and made “goshwowoboyoboy” a fannish catchphrase.

See also New York Worldcons and Early Conventions.


During the first Worldcon, fans took the opportunity to visit Coney Island, where this foto-op took place. Front, from left: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne. Rear: Vincent Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury, July 4, 1939. Courtesy of Robert Madle.

It is difficult these days when there are fans of all ages to appreciate how young fandom was in 1939. Here is a table of ages of major figures during the First Worldcon:

Nycon 1 had a list of members, but it was neither accurate nor complete. Not accurate, because many people signed up with pseudonyms -- in some cases more than one. Not complete in that an estimated 50 people didn't sign in at all! (The $1 membership fee, while not insignificant to those poverty-stricken young people, was not a major source of convention income, so there was little attempt to get everyone to pay.)

This list was published in Julius Unger's fanzine Fantasy Fiction Field Nycon Review in June 1942 See here for the actual list. New Fandom 6 (January 1940, p. 10) also contained a partial list. We have added names for which there is evidence of their attendance.

Recorded elsewhere as having attended:[edit]

Excluded from the convention:[edit]


The program book, meanwhile, contains a list of “Scientifictionists” who each paid 25¢ to be included, a way of supporting the convention. Like all such lists at early conventions, there are numerous pseudonymous duplicates, including many names for Forry Ackerman.

Futurian Conference[edit]

A conference held on Tuesday, July 4, 1939, the third day of the Nycon, while many of the Worldcon attendees were playing a softball game on Flushing Flats. The Futurians, most of whom had been banned from the Worldcon, and their sympathizers held their own free mini-con in Brooklyn. They discussed the Exclusion Act and Michelism.

From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944
From Conference – Third day of the Nycon, where most of the attendees were playing softball on Flushing Flats, the Futurians and their sympathizers met in a Futurian Conference. They discussed the Exclusion Act and Michelism.

More Reading[edit]

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
from Convention NYCon I was held in New York 2-4 July under the auspices of New Fandom as the World Science Fiction Convention, "First" being added later. (Annual Worldcons were not at first contemplated; idea and site for the ChiCon were not formally approved by fans till the PhilCo later this year.) With a total attendance of 200, it was the largest before World War II ended major conventions. It set the pattern for subsequent conventions lasting more than one day, but was marred by the Exclusion Act. The name of NYCon (or "Fifth Eastern") was tagged on it by the Wollheimists to downgrade the claim implicit in "World", but after the ChiCon such portmanteau-names were always used.
From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944
The First World Science-Fiction Convention in New York in 1939; called originally by its enemies who denied that it was a "world" convention, the name was generally adopted after the Chicon. The enemies of WSFC committee also called it the World's Fair Science-Fiction Convention, 1939 being the first year of the NY Worlds fair.

first Worldcon - Bidding - Hugos Chicon
first New York Worldcons NyCon II
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