For much of that time it’s been regarded as the United Kingdom’s primary newspaper of record, if you disregard official gazettes. For that reason, it’s known affectionately as “The Thunderer” and still considered to be the paper of the Establishment (though that perception’s about as up-to-date as the one of City gents still wearing bowler hats and pinstripe trousers).
It’s been Rupert Murdoch’s principal heavyweight vehicle in the UK ever since News International took it over in 1981, following a major industrial dispute which closed it down for nearly a year in 1978-79. It was long speculated that Murdoch had met then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher some weeks before the deal took place, to persuade her to allow it to go ahead without reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The official history of The Times stated that no meeting took place at that stage, but papers from the Thatcher archives released in March 2012 confirmed that the two did in fact meet at Chequers on 4 January 1981, although the question of reference to the MMC wasn’t raised.
Politically it tends to be conservative, though it’s surpassed in this by the Daily Telegraph by quite some distance. It supported the Blair government in the 2001 and 2005 general elections, though whether that constituted a switch away from the Tories is a matter for debate among those on the Left.
It was historically a broadsheet newspaper, but brought out a tabloid (“compact”) format version in 2003 which was sold alongside the broadsheet. Controversially, it switched to tabloid-only publication in 2004, having made a commitment earlier to its readers that it would do no such thing.
It shared a website with The Sunday Times prior to June 2010, but got its own site in that month when News International introduced a paywall for both titles’ web presence. The price announced was £1 for a day’s access or £2 for a week’s; these options are no longer available, with a minimum contract of 12 months applicable.
There are Irish and Overseas editions available in addition to the main UK edition; a Middle East/Asia edition was added in the autumn of 2011. It’s also available as an e-edition and through iPad and Android apps.