Today is 12th March 2014. Exactly 25 years ago, Tim Berners-Lee, now rightly so 'Sir' Tim Berners-Lee created the 'mesh', or 'world wide web' as it was renamed in 1990. Where would we be without it?
So, here's my little Information Super-highway timeline and the effects it's had on my little life:
(Links should open in new windows, just close the window to return to this blog)
|1989||My school, Cardinal Langley, installs a computer network. There was no link to the outside world but I was fascinated and immediately hooked. It became a challenge for me to push the limits of this new technology.|
|1990||On a cold Winter's morning I finally succeeded in hacking the school network, along with a good mate Paul. Between us we put the message 'Happy days are here again' on the log in screen for all users. Don't ask me why we used that message, I have no idea to this day but after we'd done it I was shaking with excitement. Mr. Henderson, the head of Computer Science was off with manflu, Paul and I thought we'd timed our behaviour perfectly and could change everything back before he recovered. Unfortunately the headmaster summoned him in and for a tense few hours made us think they were going to expell us.|
|1991||Parents buy me my first PC. It was a Ferranti Advance 86, proudly made in Manchester and had a 4.77MHz processor, 640Kb memory and 20Mb hard drive. It felt huge and powerful.|
The Orange mobile phone network is launched in April, and I got one of the first Nokia Orange phones. I'd read a lot about this new mobile network; fairer pricing and an innovative new development called 'Text Messaging' and wanted a part of it. Unfortunately, text messaging wasn't initially available and even when they did launch the following year, you had to pay a monthly subscription to be able to use the service. I thought it would never catch on.
|1995||My first ever text message from a mate, Neil. He was studying at a collage which had the 'internet' and sent a text message to my phone from Orange's website. The message was brief but invited me to a government funded training course on the internet and included a free US Robotics Sportster 28.8 Kbs modem. Neil and I completed the short course.
It was organised by an advertising agency called Xxist who had branded themselves as ManchesterNet to tap into some EU funding. Currently living with my parents I had to agree only to use out of hours (as it tied up the phone line) and to put £0.60 in a box for every hour I spent online to pay the phone bill.
On a commercials shoot I met Geoff Boyle, a lovely Director of Photography and early adopter of the net. He'd started an online mailing list, cinematography.net for people in the industry to advise and help one another and I've been a member ever since. Geoff agreed to 'host' a website for me and I set about learning how to build one using (the truly awful) Microsoft Frontpage.
On 6th June 1997 I got my first ever web presence courtesy of Geoff detailing my freelance camera assistant services. At the time there were 'only' 100,000 other websites on the www. I used to get messages daily from around the world simply saying 'hello'!
|1998||On 8th May 1998 I purchased my first little piece of cyberspace (Lizard-King.com) with the help of my good friend Jamie. I moved the site promoting my freelance services to this address.|
|1999||Spotting a niche for online sales, I established the UK's first online 'adult' store in a lock up the size of a garage. After 12 months hard work and research (no bank understood the internet, let alone credit card security) we opened at 20h00 on 31st December 1999. The first sale was at 23h34 that same evening. Within 4 years we had a 7 figure turnover, huge warehouses in Manchester and Brighton and a 10 seat call centre. I exited in 2007, but it continues to trade to this day under the brand Superia.|
|2002||After waking up to a surprises that I can only blame on the mixing of alcohol and eBay, I designed a website that allows users to register an item on eBay and enter the maximum bid. Then, 4 seconds before the auction finishes our server 'fires' the bid winning the auction for a lower price and avoiding an emotional bidding. Should avoid me waking up to surprises like this. And this. I recruit a team in Romania (with the help of Ed, who since founded Foodtrade) to code the site and spend a lot of the year supervising the development in Bucharest and Transylvania. Within 3 years we are winning an auction on behalf of a user approximately every 12 seconds, 24 hours a day.|
|2003||Spotting an opportunity to sell Duracell batteries to films crews and TV companies, I established an online battery store. Within 2 years we were shipping 10,000 batteries a day. I sold the company in 2009 but the business continues to trade today very successfully.|
|2007||Design software that lets me run multiple e-commerce websites and eBay accounts and send orders to a fulfilment warehouse. Test from a beach in Sri Lanka... Bliss. Ahead of my time? I never market it to anyone else, but by 2012 several companies are offering software with the same features to clients.|
|2010||After completing a video call back home from a sleeper train in the arse end of China, I have the idea for a postcards website. Technology now allows us to speak and see people back home, so why not take a photo, type a message and use a mobile app that prints as a postcard and pops it in the UK postal service that same day. It's cheaper, less hassle and the recipient receives it in days not week. Race It Home is born.|
|2011||Conceive the idea for TaxiTastic. A remote device placed ina private hire office that receives jobs routed to it based on a geo-graphic area setup for each account. Only years earlier, this would have been in-conceivable. Now it's becoming reality. Just about.|
After numerous trips to Hungary, Ukraine, China and Russia and 2 years of development, TaxiTastic goes live. I also relaunch Kingdoms as a stock photo site and build a site showcasing my specialist time-lapse camera services.
Today there are over 600million websites, and nearly 40% of the population is online. Happy Brithday WWW, I'm glad to have been a part of your history!