BBC Online @20: dreams, data and downloads

Editorial Development Manager

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Twenty years ago this week, the BBC launched its first bulletin board, which was part of its first foray in web publishing – known as the Networking Club. This was an online spin-off from a BBC 2 TV series “The Net” commissioned in 1994 by BBC Education to investigate this new technological phenomenon. The Networking Club was subscription-funded (£12 per month) offering members the chance to get online, since ISPs were few and far between in those days. And so the BBC on the web was born.

The first BBC homepage

Last month we celebrated our 20th birthday at a guest panel event at New Broadcasting House – you can see highlights here.

And today we’re publishing our own interactive historical timeline looking back at key developments over the last 20 years - with the help of colleagues on the iWonder team. It features interviews with some of the pioneers of BBC Online, including Brandon Butterworth who first registered the domain in 1991, George Auckland, one of the founders of the Networking Club and Ben Lavender, whose dream in 2003 eventually became the iPlayer. There’s also some crystal-ball gazing into the future from Jemima Kiss, head of technology at the Guardian and Bill Thompson, broadcaster and the BBC’s head of archive development partnerships.

It’s one of the first outings for the new iWonder timeline format – just another example of how BBC Online is changing and innovating over the years.

Jonathan Murphy is Senior Editorial Development Executive, BBC Online

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