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British Inventor Donates Archive to Brighton University

Brighton, England, May 14th 2009: On May 12th 2009 Gateshead Council celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the world’s first online home shopping by Mrs Jane Snowball. Mrs Snowball was found through research into online shopping for the digitised Michael Aldrich Archive which has been donated today to the University of Brighton.

Michael Aldrich invented online shopping in 1979 and from 1980 onwards he designed, manufactured, sold, supported and maintained online shopping systems for many famous companies including Ford, Peugeot-Talbot, General Motors and Nissan mainly in the UK. He was responsible for the world’s first Business-to-Business online shopping system for Thomson Holidays in 1981 and the world’s first Business to Consumer supermarket system used by Mrs Snowball in Gateshead and another ground-breaking Business to Consumer system in Bradford, England. Online retail shopping in the UK in 2008 was worth over £50 billion and the worldwide market was probably over $500 billion. Michael Aldrich also invented the Teleputer in 1980, wrote the seminal paper on cabling the UK for broadband in 1981 and co-authored the government report ‘Cable Systems’ in 1982. He also wrote one of the seminal books on the information superhighway ‘Videotex Key to the Wired City’ published in 1982. He had a 38 year career in the IT industry including 20 years as Chief Executive of ROCC Computers. He retired in 2000.

The Michael Aldrich Archive covers the period 1977-2000 and includes the stories of the inventions, Case Studies of clients, documents, photo and video reference material and press cuttings. Thousands of people who were involved with these projects will also be invited to contribute material. As a website it will be opened in December 2009 and will be publicly accessible.

“This is an important Archive for the British IT industry” said Luke Aldrich, Chief Executive of ROCC. ”The Archive represents some of the innovative successes of a small British company. The projects that are reported in the Case Studies, in turn, show the achievements of companies and organizations that are household names in the UK. In many ways the Archive is a Roll of Honour of some of the leading UK IT pioneers of the last part of the 20th century. To complement this material we are hoping to build, as a second phase staring in 2010, a substantial ‘People’ contribution to the Archive so that it can become not only a technological record but also a social record of the remarkable achievements of many remarkable people.”

The span of IT innovation depicted in the Archive from 1977-2000 is astonishing. From a G8 Summit to the Papal Visit to Poland, from NHS pathology laboratories to training at Barclays Bank, from selling cars and Car Finance with real-time credit checks at a garage to farm management systems, from pricing all UK doctors’ prescriptions to processing all the UK driving and vehicle licenses, from electronically reading handwritten timesheets for the British Rail payroll to electronically processing Cattle Passports in helping to solve the BSE crisis, Michael Aldrich and his team provided solutions and documented many of them. His systems changed a number of industries including retailing, car sales, packaged holidays, finance houses and credit reference. Around 100 UK case studies are in the Archive.

In Eastern Europe 1977-2000, Michael Aldrich supplied systems to the then Czecho-Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the USSR. From the 1980 Moscow Olympics to the Siberian Gas Pipeline, from steelworks to truck plants to food processors to chemical companies to paper industries to banks to breweries to book publishers to railways to donating computers to Civic Forum to fight the first democratic election campaign after the Velvet Revolution in Czecho-Slovakia, he provided IT solutions in the former Soviet bloc for over 20 years and he had a ringside seat in the decline and fall of the Soviet Empire.

Editor’s Notes

The Michael Aldrich Archive is currently being digitised. The development website is: http://uniweb.rocc.co.uk/AldrichArchive/
Please access the website for ‘Finding Mrs Snowball’, the story of the search.

Michael Aldrich is Founder and Chairman of ROCC Computers Ltd in Preston Village, Brighton

The 1984 ITN Interview with Mrs Snowball of Gateshead, the world’s first online home shopper can be obtained from;

Marc.Lecomber@ITNSOURCE>COM Reference; SP_MIKE ALDRICH1_FTP_ITN 104288_11

ROCC Press Office can be reached on 44 1273 274700 for international calls and 01273 274700 for UK calls.



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