Michael Aldrich BiographyHistory of ROCCAcknowledgementsFeedbackBack to Aldrich Archive Home

  Horizon Holidays

  Thomson Holidays


  General Motors



  Gateshead / Tesco

  City of Bradford / WM Morrison

Pioneers Case Studies
Very few computer systems are recorded for posterity. By their nature these systems are transient serving the business or administrative purposes of an organization at a particular time. The online shopping systems are no exception. Most of them disappeared without trace but we are fortunate that a number of the important systems were considered remarkable at the time, were very successful and were recorded. These case studies tell their stories. The sources of the material have been noted.

All the B2B stories are about organizations innovating for competitive advantage. Thomson and Horizon Holidays were selling packaged holidays through High St travel agencies. Peugeot-Talbot [then trading as Talbot] had the world’s first locate-a-car system for new and used cars. Ford who had the largest system in the UK and continental Europe was helping its dealers locate new cars for customers. Nissan who had a very clever system was also selling car finance instantaneously in dealer offices by automatically accessing customer credit histories from credit ratings agencies. General Motors was selling spares .All of these were systems of the 1980s.

The B2Cs were part of projects to research how to combat social disadvantage. The projects were exploring, among many other issues, ease of use for non-computer- literate users. With these systems colour was a great innovation. Most computer displays at the time were monocolour and most computer terminals and systems were difficult to use. This of course was years before the modern PC desktop interface appeared. The Gateshead project was particularly interesting because the driving force behind the project was Ross Davies who was later to found the Oxford Institute of Retail Management at Templeton College. Davies was the intellectual support for much UK and overseas retail development and was an early leader in e-commerce. The Gateshead project also produced the world’s first online home shopper in May 1984, Mrs Jane Snowball.

A second B2C was the City of Bradford’s Centrepoint system that is included in the Archive in two sections. The online shopping system with partner Wm. Morrison, the supermarket chain is in this section. The Information System part of Centrepoint is in the ‘Innovative Information Systems’ section. Because the Bradford system combined so many services and had a large user-base of 800+ it could be described as a significant pioneer of internet-style services before the invention of the internet. All the B2C services migrated to the internet 10-15 years after they had been invented.

Some of the videotex B2B systems lasted until the 21st century. Others migrated to the internet/www. All were important. All used Aldrich’s systems.



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© Michael Aldrich 2011