ABOUT BOB CRISP founder of 1Stops
I have always been interested in electronics and printing. As
a child I had a John Bull Printing Kit (there never seemed to
have enough letters). At school I enjoyed art classes which
included making and printing from lino cuts. I started work as a
trainee TV engineer as I thought this would be the trade of the
future. In those days it was valves and converters (so that you
could receive ITV on a BBC only TVs). No colour just black
and white 405 lines. It's a bit different now HD in colour with
stereo sound, teletext and remote controls. It progressed to
transistors and later the microchip which consists of thousands
or even millions of transistors on one slice or chip of silicon.
As I thought the microchip was going to be the future I bought a "Home Computer Kit" to give me hands on experience. This was before the term Personal Computer (PC) was in invented. This kit consisted of a large bag of chips and a blank printed circuit board on which I had to solder hundreds chips, resistors and capacitors. My new computer worked at a reckless speed of 2megs per second and had a whole 1k (1,000) user memory. The memory was later extended a massive 48k on an addition board also added two latest state of the art 5in double sided floppies with a massive capacity of 133kbts. Altogether it all cost me £1,600. I could not afford a Hard Drive, in those days a 20meg was just under £600. Just think what you can get for that now! The modern computers are a fraction of the price and the speeds are a thousand times faster with memory in Gbtes (thousand million). Also due to the lack of memory I was writing programs in pure machine code using M80 Assembly. Same as mobile phones, these use to be a suitcase with a phone on top - now so small and very powerful and full of extra features.
When microchips started to find there way into TV's I realised that the days of the TV engineer was numbered if the complete circuit is on one microchip it will not take an expert to work out the problem. I had to fault find right down to component level and replace the component all within 15 minutes. With the price of many boards nowadays it doesn't make sense in repairing them.
As art and printing was my other main interest I bought a brand new Gestetner printing machine and started Printing Services in 1973 and advertised the service as 1StopPrint. The first 1Stops. A few months later I swapped this one for the next model up with automatic vacuum feed. Over the years I built up the printing business. This also has seen a many great changes. Initially we were used rub down transfers for producing the letters and the invoice forms were produce by pen and ink. A painstaking and slow way of producing the artwork. Our first typesetting machine consisted of a large wheel with all the letters, numbers and symbols around the edge. This wheel was turned round until the correct letter is in position, pressing a button photographed this letter onto photographic paper. All this was done blind and you only found out your mistakes after the paper was developed when it's too late. It had set of different wheels for each type font, style (normal, bold, italic, bold italic) and size. To cover ten different sizes on just one font style needed forty different wheels were required. These wheels were 14 inches across and a quarter inch thick so storage was a considerable problem. With all its problems this was a vast improvement on the transfer system. The output from this machine was a long strip of words on paper which was cut and pasted on to a board in their required position together with pictures, drawings and ruled forms to produce the artwork hence the expression "paste up artist". The modern systems are basically standard PCs running graphic software together with a special printer which prints by laser directly onto photographic film which is automatically developed, fixed, washed and dried. This film is used to expose the plates. The great advantage of this system is that what you see on the screen is what is printed on to the plate in less than ten minutes.
Bach and his brother Raj, together with Ross are now running the print side of things leaving me to concentrate on the World Wide Web side of the business. They have refurbished the shop, added new machinery and new lines to the business.
The internet has existed for many years. Initially each service provider was independent and its hub only connected to its own members. In those days it was for email only which was restricted to its own members. It was very much later when all the service providers joined forces and the separate hubs became interconnected to make the internet that we now have today. This has also seen great changes. My first modem work at the reckless speed of 300/75 bps. As there is 10 bits for one byte, the download speed was 30 bytes (characters) and the upload speed was 7.5 bytes per second. No way could you transmit a photograph at these speeds. As the telephone system was designed for sound, the data was converted to tones and the modern modem uses multiple tones and maximum speed increased to 56k. Basic internet pages were now possible.
ISDN achieved a faster speed by splitting the data between more than one phone line, however this did not reduce the cost of transmission since you have to pay for all the phone lines used. So to achieve four times the speed, four phone lines are utilised at four times the cost!
Broadband is an entirely different system by using a digital signal and not sound tones. Speeds of 24MB can be achieved on a BT line (actual speed depends on how near to the exchange, line quality and other factors in practice 3-4Megs). Optical fibre can easily achieve 100megs. Now that reasonable speeds can be achieved large data files are no longer a problem. This means pictures, music, phone calls (VOIP), games, software, books (PDF), even video and TV on the demand are now all practical. This increased bandwidth reduces the time it takes to load more complex pages, together with powerful search engines makes surfing the net more pleasurable.
Due to the increased speeds and modern technology web design now includes online forms, flash movies, background music, interactive sounds, databases and special effects driven by scripts written in java and other computer languages. Modern web pages are controlled by cascading style sheets (css) this allows the style to be set and all the pages follow this style. The advantage of this, is that by just changing the style sheet the whole site style is updated, this avoids the need of editing each page one by one. Surfers are now using many different types of browsers each having different capabilities which add to the problems of designing web pages which can be viewed on all browsers. Search engines now form a major part of the Internet experience, therefore web pages need to be designed with this in mind with hidden tags, files and site maps to improve the chances of the web site to be found by these engines. This process is called search engine optimisation (seo) and includes submitting the site to these engines so that they update their database quicker. Email is taking over from the telephone and facsimile machines, photos, files and other documents can be attached together with the cost, speed and reliability advantage.
As you can see I have many years of experience with a sound technical and practical background.