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  Re-creating Mrs Snowball's 1984
    Shopping Machine

Aldrich Archive and e-fenix History Projects
The advent of online shopping, e-commerce and e-business together constitute a defining moment in the development of the modern digital world. The invention of online shopping in 1979, its initial application in Business-to-Business direct online transaction processing in the early 1980s and the first Business-to-Consumer direct online transaction processing from a home in 1984 were ground-breaking events in the history of e-commerce. E-business, another name coined in the 1990s, was the extension of business-to-business working beyond transaction processing and was available in the same systems in the 1980s.

Redifon / Rediffusion / ROCC has a history as a pioneering IT company and it invented and/or pioneered all these developments. . The company was also successful, innovative and influential in data capture and data processing both in the UK and in Eastern Europe. It is important that the work and achievements of the company, its staff and its clients in implementing these systems are properly recorded and recognised. It will be for future generations to pass judgements.

To these ends, two major projects have commenced. The first was the Aldrich Archive donated to the University of Brighton and held in both hard copy and digitised form, the latter being web-accessible to the general public. Around 50% of the Archive has been digitised. Begun in 2008, the first part of the Archive primarily records events and notable achievements. The second part now underway records the people who made the achievements possible. This part is expected to conclude around 2013. Thereafter it is planned to re-scan the entire Archive and create a searchable facility for academics. It will always be open to the public.

The second major project is to preserve the world’s first online shopping system and a Teleputer as working historical memorials to the people who created and used them. The systems will go on permanent working public display at an internationally famous and prestigious museum from around 2013. We have called this the e-fenix history project. It will be in two phases; the re-creation of the Gateshead SIS/Tesco system of 1984 and the re-commissioning of the Teleputer 3.

We need volunteers to help with both projects. For the Archive we need people who worked in the company between 1977 and 2000 to contribute their memories, insights, photos etc. We have already put the company newspapers into the Archive.

For the e-fenix history project we need engineering and support professionals to help re-create working systems. We have a BCG that we believe is in working order, we have WMS and we have a non-working Teleputer 3 that needs a video cable. [Thanks to Richard Hibbs for the Hardware/Software and some documentation]. We also need working Viewdata TVs, spares, documentation and some more Teleputers. The goal is to provide the logistics for long-term sustainability. Alan Gould has volunteered to be Project Manager.

This is an opportunity to help future generations to understand some remarkable achievements. It will also be a challenge to re-create these systems. ROCC will support and sponsor the projects but the management will be left to volunteers. This is history not commerce. These projects belong to the people who were involved no matter whether they now work for ROCC or not. ROCC has no commercial interests in these projects and its support is pro-bono.

If you can help in any way, as a volunteer or as a supporter, please contact me via the Feedback page. If you know of anyone who may be able to help in any way, please forward this message.

Best wishes.

Thank you

Michael Aldrich

September 2010



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