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The History of Beebware International

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:

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ] [ 1999 ] [ 2000 ]


November 1994

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.
Unfortunately Richard (the proprietor) suffered a major computer crash a month later (the old 5¼" external disc drive of the BBC stopped working) and the number of BBCs in active use were declining (although there is a large number of them still in constant usage in the late 1990's) it was deemed best to close the Beebware BBC PD library.

December 1994

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).

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


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.

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


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 June 1996 Richard acquired a Simtec 3Mb upgrade for his computer pushing its memory to (the then enormous) amount of 4 megabytes of RAM. In November he added a parallel-port Iomega Zip drive (with Argonet software) and finally on the 26th of December 1995 he added a 'fast' 33.6Kbps modem and got connected to the Internet via 'Demon Internet'.

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


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).

By this point, due to other commitments, it was decided to temporarily close the Public Domain software library (which was one of the Acorn User's Recommended PD Libraries). During this time, Richard concentrated on earning some money in the real world while writing PD software and commercial software in his spare time (although non of the commercial software ever reached the market, it is worth listing here that they notably consisted of 'a multi-purpose graphical user interface programming package' and 'a National Lottery winning numbers recorder' - the code for these still remains more than 90% completed). Richard also spent a considerable amount of time writing webpages for his highly successful websites (which, due to their popularity, nearly had his Internet connection severed for taking up too much bandwidth).

June 1997

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...]).

August 1997

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.
Unfortunately, due to a motherboard fault, the computer then had to be sent back for repair. It arrived back around two weeks later. The fault in the motherboard then (a few weeks later) appeared to have damaged the actually StrongARM processor card which then had to be sent back for replacement. This very short run of bad luck lasted until late November 1997 as IFEL and Acorn were busy 'getting over' the annual 'party-cum-exhibition-cum-marketing ploy' known as 'Acorn World'.
In December (I'm not mentioning the date, all those <sup>th</sup> commands are getting on my nerves) a nice Dynamode K56Flex modem appeared underneath an interior pine tree and Richard quickly used it for his Internet connection instead of the old 33.6Kbps modem.

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


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.

May 1998

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.
With the (non-financial) backing of his parents he sent off a cheque to NetLink Internet for 20Mb webspace and started writing these web pages.
On the 30th of May, Beebware was official wound-down and Beebware International then sprung from the ashes offering its dynamic effective Internet services and computer software, this time written not only in Risc OS but in Perl, DOS, C, C++, Inform and Java programming languages (Richard has self taught himself all these languages and can often be spotted mumbling gibberish to himself around his home village of Huncote).
During the time span between the 30th of May and the 1st of December, Beebware concentrated on building up its list of trading partners (and building up its customer/user base).

December 1998

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.

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


January 1999

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).

February 1999

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 .

1994 ] [ 1995 ] [ 1996 ] [ 1997 ]  1998 ]  1999 ] [ 2000 ]


June 2000

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.

August 2000

In the need for larger premises, we relocated from our village location to more spacious premises closer to Leicester City centre.

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