Michael Aldrich BiographyHistory of ROCCAcknowledgementsFeedbackThe Aldrich Library

  Introduction to the Aldrich Archive

  Pioneers of Online Shopping

  Teleputers and Cable Systems

  Innovative Information Systems
    1980 - 1990

  Data Capture 1977 - 2000

  The Human Factor 1977 - 2000

  Eastern Europe 1977 - 2000

  Press Releases

  Press Cuttings by Year

  Collected Papers by Year

  Company Newspapers

  A Technical History of ROCC Computers

  ROCC Hardware Archive

  ROCC Technical Documents


  Michael Aldrich Prize

  Aldrich Archive and e-fenix
    History Projects

Welcome to the Michael Aldrich Archive
The Michael Aldrich Archive was donated to the Aldrich Library at the University of Brighton, UK, in 2009 for the purposes of teaching, learning, scholarship and research. The Archive is held in both digitised and hard copy media. The Archive covers the period 1977-2000. The Archive will be open to the public through the internet from December 2009. The first phase of the Archive deals with technology and events. The second phase which begins in 2010 covers the people involved with creating and using the systems. [Please note that the  Aldrich Collection of over 300 works of contemporary art is held at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Brighton].

Michael Aldrich worked in the IT industry from July 1962 to January 2000, from leaving University to retiring. He held senior management positions with Burroughs (now Unisys), Honeywell (now Bull) and Rediffusion (now disappeared) and ROCC. He was a CEO from 1980 to 2000. The period 1960-2000 saw intense development in the new IT industry when computers moved from the size of small houses to the size of a thumbnail, from batch monoprogramming using punched card files to real-time interactive world- wide networks with gigabyte disk storage in the laptop and from doing not a great deal to being ubiquitous.

The first section, ‘Pioneers of Online Shopping,’ is about the invention and early application of online shopping, contemporary e-commerce and e-business in 1979. The second section, ‘Teleputers and Cable Systems,’ is about the 1980 invention of the Teleputer home/office workstation, a fusion of PC, TV and Telecom, and the 1981 plan to change UK law to permit the use of interactive broadband cable networks to serve Aldrich’s vision of the wired community. Aldrich developed the concept of IT as a participative, mass communication medium through the use of videotex technology, a concept that was not fully realised until 30 years later with social networking and the Apple Inc iPhone 3G. In the third section, ‘Innovative Information Systems’ there is a broad mix of projects that Aldrich was involved with in the 1980s as organisations struggled to make their information assets more accessible to their workforces in order to improve efficiency, productivity, customer service and, ultimately, profitability. Here can be found pioneering systems in computer-based distance learning, teleworking, executive information systems, information collection and retrieval and interactive retail stock control, major event management, hospital and community information systems etc. In the fourth section, ‘Data Capture 1977-2000,’ there is an examination of the world of data capture that was an intrinsic part of the old world of data processing in the era before the PC arrived to put a computer on every desk. That was industrialised data processing. Data capture originally was piece-work based and organized in tightly managed production units. Look carefully and you will see one of the antecedents of the modern-day call centre. Aldrich examines the evolution in data capture from keying information to electronically scanning forms to collect information electronically. Aldrich was an innovator in the old world of computing and one of the inventors of the new world of IT. In the fifth section there is a review of human relations and health and safety issues, ‘The Human Factor 1977-2000.’ The final section,’ Eastern Europe 1977-2000’ looks at markets that at one point represented 30% of ROCC’s business during the Cold War.

The Archive consists mainly of original material from Michael Aldrich’s personal papers with some newly written pieces to link the subjects or tell stories for the first time. Some Wikepedia general reference information has also been added. Most of the case studies, which mainly report the projects at organisations that were then, and still are now, household names, are taken from ‘Information Management’ the journal of ROCC and are the only surviving records of hundreds of projects. Around 50% of the Archive has been digitised. The Archive should also be viewed in the context of the book Aldrich wrote from 1979 and published in 1982, ‘Videotex- Key to the Wired City’, Quiller Press London 1982. The book is mainly a collection of papers that he wrote for himself as he was trying to formulate his ideas. The videotex technology proved short-lived but the forecast social dimension of the new IT was prophetic. He also co-authored ‘Cable Systems,’ HMSO 1982, ‘Making a Business of Information,’ HMSO 1983 and ’Learning to Live with IT,’ HMSO 1986.

Use of the Archive is subject to the terms of the User Licence in ‘Copyright’ below. Users of the Archive are deemed to have accepted the Terms.



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© Michael Aldrich 2011