Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My museum of content related artefacts (17)

1984: IDB Online

The picture is a collage which was pasted for the launch of IDB Online by VNU in London in December 1984. It contains a copy of the paper edition of the newsletter IDB Information Daily Bulletin published. It is dated July 11. 1984. The paper edition of the newsletter comes out of the telephone. The background of the collage was inspired by the masts at Brow Head, one of the most Southern point of Ireland from where Marconi established his first wireless transmission station. I learned that out when I was on holiday in Ireland and stayed in nearby Crook haven. Marconi was in Crookhaven during his search for a suitable site to send the first transatlantic message. He had masts at Brow Head and put a telegraphic transmitter on the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse. Some years ago, a storm took all the sand out of Galley Cove and exposed the huge cables that connected the Fastnet Rock Lighthouse with his radio room in Crookhaven.

The IDB newsletter was a daily newsletter for the computer industry. It had subscribers in the UK and USA. The paper edition was forwarded by snail mail; given the many mail strikes in the UK, the newsletters were held up often and the US subscribers fell victim to this delay. As it was an already existing newsletter, with subscribers, who were active in the computer industry an electronic edition was often discussed. Mailing a newsletter of 2K max should not be a problem.

When I was seconded to London for VNU in October 1983, I had clear ideas about the electronic edition of this newsletter. I had picked up experience with electronic newsletters as the editor-in-chief Jean-Paul Emard had started the Online Chronicle on the US host service Dialog. Every fortnight an edition was put together and I delivered news about the online scene in Europe.

Plans for a daily electronic newsletter were presented, but the management was hesitant. VNU’s first investment in electronic publishing had been in the American company Disclosure; but it was more for the returns than for the electronic publishing that VNU acquired the company. In Europe VNU had just burned some 15 million guilders in the publishing lab VNU Database Publishing International. A grant from the European Commission, great 60.000 euro, eased the project forward. In 1984 the product was developed and trialled. A deal was made with Telecom Gold, the e-mail branch of British Telecom; Telecom Gold had an email service, couple with a database service developed by Westinghouse. The daily newsletter was to be loaded on the database service, while the headlines were mailed in a message to the subscriber. In December 1984 the newsletter was launched for Europe at the Online Conference in Hammersmith. IDB Online was the first online newsletter in Europe which was published daily. In April 1985 the newsletter was daily copied to the US newsletter service NewsNet, which worked with the same software. The IDB Online service lasted into the nineties.

Blog Posting Number: 827


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