Friday, August 05, 2005

25 Years Online in the Netherlands: A Compact History in 25 Instalments

Instalment 5: 1980 online was serious business

In The Hague in 1980 EC official Franco Mastroddi explains Euronet Diane network (collection Jak Boumans)

Just towards the end of 1979 the European Commission introduced Euronet Diane (Direct Information Access Network for Europe), a European data network. This made it easy for telecom companies to link in offer European services. It helped the hosts of ASCII database services, but also videotext services. So the expectations for 1980 were very high.

On January 2, 1980 VNU made a statement by a full size page advertisement by VNU. It was the announcement of the new subsidiary VNU Data Publishing International (DPI). The company, managed by Jay Curry, profiled itself as “an ultra modern publishing company, which uses the most modern technological tools as computers, viewdata, text processing and table computers. Although all these tools are indispensable for DPI, modern publishing means that all tools have to be used, even existing tools such a conferences, books, etc”. In short, DPI was a most modern publishing company using old and new media tools.

A Superbrain, online with telephone and a 300 bps modem (collection Jak Boumans)

And as with other companies at that time the PC finally started to make its entry. Philips sold its P2000 to business and consumers, mostly members of the Hobby Computer Club, founded on 27 april 1977. And one shop in Amsterdam North sold various brands of table computer PCs such as Superbrain.

By January 28, 1980 the Dutch PTT made known the official name of their service: Viditel (seeing by telephone). On April 1, 1980 the Dutch television information service, Teletekst, went on the air and has been the best new media service ever. And on August 7, 1980 the service Viditel was launched. I will come back on Teletekst and Viditel in my next blogs. In the same year Kluwer started to commercialise its Legal Database. The long experimental phase had passed, the costs for setting up the service had been written off in one stroke and the hunt for paid subscriptions for law companies had started. Online had become serious business

First edition of Media-Info (collection Jaka Boumans)

All these new developments were confusing to many people. But for publishers it meant haytime. On October 1, 1980 the bi-weekly Media-Info, a newsletter on old and new media, was launched by VNU. It dealt with newspapers, radio and television and cable as well with videotext, satellite and video-on-demand. The newsletter changed its masthead to Telecombrief in order to be a sub-publication of Telecommagazine. It was sold to EDP services, part of Heliview in 1989 and sold on to Broadcast in 1992. It is still the oldest printed newsletter on new media, although it has been focussing more on telecom than on new media and has lost much of its importance since Internet, the speed of gathering news and the many newsletters copying each other.

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