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Beebware International was formally founded on the 1st of June 1998 by Richard Chiswell. However, before Beebware International there was just the plain old 'Beebware' (which Beebware International is still shortened to - mainly in the interest of typists fingers :-) - but if you want to read the whole story, let's start from the beginning:
Beebware was originally founded in early November 1994 for the sole purpose of being a public domain software library for the very old Acorn BBC Microcomputers (which started selling in 1979). Since 'Beeb' was a common nickname for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation - don't ask why they had a computer named after them, it is a long story) and since 'ware' is a contraction (just) of 'software', 'Beebware' was deemed a suitable name for the company.
On the 25th of December 1994, Richard then acquired (by way of a gift) a brand spanking new Acorn A3010 with a massive 1Mb of memory, internal 3½" disc drive, no hard drive and Risc OS 3.10. After learning how to operate the new computer (which was some 15 younger than the original BBC) he reopened the Beebware PD library, but this time for the 'Acorn Archimedes' range of computers (as the Acorn A-series was then known).
Between the 27th of December 1994 and December 1995, Beebware mainly concentrated on building up the software library by purchasing PD discs from other similar organisations, contacting the software's authors directly, and by writing his own software. The major highlight during this period was in September 1994 when Beebware got a bank account under its own name (with Girobank) on the provision that the club committee (Richard again) wasn't paid for his services. As you shouldn't make a profit on the distribution of public domain software, this seemed agreeable. The other major highlight was on the 26th of December 1995 when a (now needed) 3Mb RAM upgrade was added to the computer specification bringing the computers memory to the maximum expansion of 4Mb RAM.
Starting in 1996, Richard then started writing commercial software with the eventual outcome of the specialist database program Cheat for (yes, you've guessed it) holding cheat, hints, tips, bug lists, solutions and walk-throughs for Acorn RISC OS games.
In February 1997, Richard then forked out just over one hundred pounds for 'The ANT Internet Suite' consisting of Marcel (mail client), Fresco (web browser), HotList (for managing hotlists/bookmarks), FTPClient (for, erm, FTP) and some other bits of software. This was a welcome addition to the increase amount of software he had as, previously, he had been using public domain internet software and it wasn't actually that brilliant (although, it has to be noted, that the author, Stewart Brodie, of the 'ArcWeb' PD web browser went and started work at Acorn Computers Ltd in October 1997 developing their web browser).
In June 1997, however, a major hardware change was in order. The Acorn Group PLC hadn't long been running a special discount system which Richard took advantage of. The offer was 'Give us any old computer - Amiga, Atari, Apple, PC - and get two hundred pounds off the purchase price of a new StrongARM Risc PC'. With very very little arm twisting Richard managed to get the Acorn Approved Dealer - IFEL - to accept a spare BBC for part-exchange (Richard doesn't remember to this day exactly how he ended up with the spare computer - but not to worry. [Amendment: December 1998 - It has come to light that Richard has found yet another BBC microcomputer in the loft of his home. They must be breeding up there...]).
Then in August 1997 Richard decided to increase the specification of this new computer from a basic 4Mb DRAM to a considerable 36Mb DRAM and 2Mb VRAM. This allowed him to load his Internet software, DTP Package (Impression Junior - hey it was free on a magazine cover disc), Graphics package (Paint and a pre-release copy of ArtWorks), Programming software (at this point it was mainly Edit) and loads more software while still working at 202Mhz in a 16Million colour screen mode measuring 800 by 600 pixels at 56Hz.
In February 1998 a second parallel Iomega Zip Drive (with software by AlSystems) was added to aid back-up purposes (and to avoid upgrading the 1.2Gb Risc PC hard drive), this then had a Epson Stylus Color 600 inkjet printer attached to it in April.
In May, Richard took the decision to permanently close the PD library (he was still receiving catalogue requests) and to concentrate on software development and Internet services.
On the 1st of December 1998, Beebware Internet launched its free Internet Access Service with the aim of providing a whole range of FREE internet services. This deal enabled Beebware to offer unlimited internet access for just the price of a local telephone call.
In January, Beebware had additional telephone lines installed to their Leicester headquarters and the purchase of a physical fax machine (up to this point they had been using a 'virtual fax machine') has allowed them to increase their accessibility while reducing the cost of contacting them (previously telephone calls incurred mobile rate charges which have now been reduced to national rate calls).
In February, Beebware purchased off its Chief Executive the rights to an adult fetish website, and rebranded and relaunched it. Within a few days, the site 'SuperSpandex' was featured on the Meridian TV program cyber.cafe .
We designed, developed and tested (all within 2 weeks) an internet directory system for Northcliffe Newspaper group for a feasibility study for geographical local area listings.
In the need for larger premises, we relocated from our village location to more spacious premises closer to Leicester City centre.