The history of Distel
|Distel, the name being an acronym
derived from 'Display Electronics ', as
far as we know, was the very first PUBLIC free of charge on line database.
The system was designed and installed in the mid 1970's, enabling
users with access to a modem to contact Display Electronics 24 Hrs a
day, 7 days a week, browse through it's large stocks (very much larger
now !!) of electronic low priced and surplus items, and place on-line
credit card orders.
The original hardware was based on a DEC PDP11 mini computer, running the RSX operating system with just 5 mb's of hard disk space and 64 Kb of ram !! All the programs were written in a compiled version of Basic, taking about 25 minutes to compile each time a change was made to the program.!
Starting with a single dialup connection running at (it seemed fast in those days !) just 300 baud. Over the years Distel was expanded to 8 dialup ports each running upto 9600 baud. The good old DEC PDP11 was upgraded to an 11/73 cpu and eventually hosted 2 gb's of hard disk and 1 mb of memory - the whole system occupying a small air conditioned room !!
At it's peak, Distel would take over 2000 calls per week from all four corners of the World, resulting in many orders and customers who still buy goods from us today. Much to our delight, Distel became part of the curriculum in many educational establishments and was often used to demonstrate the practical uses of computer communications.
We have continued the tradition of Distel via the World Wide Web in the form of our own website www.distel.co.uk and with the ever staggering progression of technology, pioneers like Dave Fisher, (he had the ideas) and John Hodges, (he wrote most of the software) wonder what's next ?