Michael Aldrich BiographyHistory of ROCCAcknowledgementsFeedbackBack to Aldrich Archive Home


Michael Aldrich Wikipedia
October 2009
Michael Aldrich
[1941-] is an English inventor, innovator and entrepreneur credited with inventing Online shopping, the Teleputer and influencing the development of interactive local loop Cable TV in the UK.

In 1979, Aldrich invented online shopping by connecting a modified domestic TV to a real-time transaction processing computer via a domestic telephone line. From 1980 he designed, manufactured, sold, installed, maintained and supported many online shopping systems, using videotex technology, in the UK.[1] These systems pre-date the Internet/www, the IBM PC and Microsoft and were installed mainly in the UK by large corporations.

In 1980 he invented a system he called the 'Teleputer' by connecting a modified 14" colour television to a plinth containing a Zilog Z80 microprovessor running a modified version of the CP/M operating system and a chip set containg a modem, character generator and auto-dialler. The Teleputer of 1980 could receive terrestrial television, operate as a stand-alone colour PC[at a time when computer screens were mainly mono-chromatic] with a full complement of application software and network with other computers via dial-up or leased lines.[2] The system included two 500KB floppy disks [later a 20MB laser disk},a keyboard and a printer. The name 'Teleputer' later became synonymous with the fusion of computers, telecommunications and television in a single device.There were plans to add video-disks which at the time, in prototype form, were 12". In many ways the Teleputer was the first home media centre concept.[3]

The Teleputer was put into production for business use with the TV tuner removed. There was no consumer electronics market for it [at the time the consumer electronics market was just waking up to the VCR] but it was relatively easy to cost-justify the Teleputer for business networking.[4] It was widely used in the UK and, because a Cyrillic version was made, in the then USSR.

The Teleputer was often used with the Online Shopping systems. Most computer systems by their nature are transient but many of Aldrich's systems were transformational. Many were recorded for posterity and case studies have survived.[5] The world's first recorded Business-to-Business [B2B] Online Shopping system was Thomson Holidays[1981][6] The world's first recorded Business-to-Consumer [B2C] online shopping system was Gateshead SIS/Tesco[1984][7] The world's first recorded online home shopper was Mrs Jane Snowball,72, of Gateshead, England in May 1984.[8] Aldrich's systems changed the holiday, retail, auto, finance and credit ratings industries. Online shopping was an important development for electronic commerce. Both of his B2C systems in Gateshead and Bradford were shopping and information services. Bradford Centrepoint [1987] even ran a news service at one point. These systems were pioneering pre-internet systems.[9]

Aldrich's original intention had been to develop a consumer electronics market for IT systems linked to a concept for broadband interactive information processing and cable TV distribution. He had a particular schema for a wired community.[10] He campaigned successfully to change the law in the UK to permit new cable TV technology.[11]

The three areas of his work in consumer electronics- Online Shopping/Teleworking/Telebanking, Home Information Centres and Broadband Cable TV- and his book represent a significant contribution to the development of contemporary consumer information and transaction systems and to electronic commerce. Aldrich's ideas are the basis for internet home shopping.

He was also an innovator in other areas of computer and information technology. He founded ROCC Computers in 1984.


  1. ^ 'Checking out the check-outs' Financial Times London 12 July 1980
  2. ^ 'The Thing has arrived, and guess what- it's British teleputer' The Guardian London 30 September 1981
  3. ^ 'Living by Numbers' The Sunday Times Colour Supplement, London 27 September 1981
  4. ^ 'Enter the Teleputer, all purpose information tool' Financial Times London 2 October 1981
  5. ^ Aldrich Archive, University of Brighton, England www.aldricharchive.com
  6. ^ 'Using IT for competitive advantage at Thomson Holidays' Long range Planning Vol 21 No.6 p26-29 Pregamon Press London
  7. ^ 'Videotex takes Gateshead Teleshopping into the home' The Incorporated Engineer, Journal of the IEEE September 1984 p.6
  8. ^ http.www.gateshead.gov.uk....News:'Gateshead celebrates world's first online shopper'
  9. ^ 'Computer Technology and Human Services in the 1990s: Advancing Theory and Practice: Teleshopping and Social Services in the UK' Michael Cahill, 'Computers in Human Services' Vol. 9 [3/4] London 1993
  10. ^ 'Videotex Key to the Wired City' Michael Aldrich, Quiller Press London 1982
  11. ^ 'Cable Systems' Co-Author HMSO London 1982



Biography                  History of ROCC                  Acknowledgements                  Feedback                  Copyright

Michael Aldrich 2011