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"The WWW Info-Rainforest"

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Alan Connor | 00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 25 December 2007

...and other analogies that didn't catch on

This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of bbc.co.uk.

THE BBC is launching an on-line service from May 11 through the BBC Networking Club. Members will be connected through PCs and modems to a bulletin board where information and real-time conversation can be exchanged with others. A password will give members access to The Internet and more than 20m people worldwide. The cost of joining will be £25 and a monthly fee of £12. Details on 081-881 8236.
From The Sunday Times, April 17th 1994

babhead.gifOne of the frustrating things about the image of one of our first homepages as seen below is that you can't (yet) click away and see what the pages looked like.

Well, since it's Christmas, Cathy Smith of BBC Information & Archives has let the Internet Blog into her world of floppies and laserdiscs to catch an exciting glimpse of some Beeb HTML from around February 1995.

First of all, here's the BBC's ISP-ish "BBC Networking Club" with its bulletin board Auntie, which "will enable you to participate in Conferences with programme makers, and access our growing archive Library of BBC related and educational information":


For me, it's reminiscent of the time when my flatmate appeared to excitedly relate that he'd heard from a chemist at an Italian university that "you can get pictures on the net now - it's called The Web".


Next, we have a complete list of the BBC's email addresses, rerendered from the original HTML. The heading reads: "This is an alphabetical list of all currently available BBC public e-mail addresses and it will be updated at regular intervals. If the address you are looking for is not here then it does not exist, so please do not contact the webweaver or postmaster asking for it! There is a separate list for those of you who have a browser that supports e-mail."

Especially pleasing is the alphabetical listing by email address, the total inconsistency of domain names and, for The Sky At Night, imagining how it might have been read out: "please do e-mail us at the dot sky dot at - that's at as in ay tee - dot night at - that's the at symbol this time - bee bee cee dot co dot yew kay. That e-mail address again...".

  • 100431.2524@compuserve.com - For more information on BBC Monitoring's range of commercial and free services.
  • Afternoon.Shift@bbc.co.uk - the Radio 4 programme.
  • askauntie@bbcnc.org.uk - to access the helpline. Available to BBC Networking Club members only.
  • auntreg@bbcnc.org.uk - for automatic receipt of the Associate Membership application form to join Auntie if you already have Internet access.
  • bbc_education@bbcnc.org.uk - for comments and enquiries to BBC Education
  • bbcsport@wales.bbc.co.uk - for contacting all BBC Wales sports producers.
  • bigbyte@bbc.co.uk - for sending e-mail to the producers of The Big Byte
  • Bruce.Dickinson@bbc.co.uk - the address for the The Bruce Dickinson rock show (surprise!)
  • bryn@cet.education.bbc.co.uk - for the See Hear production team.
  • bug-report@bbcnc.org.uk- for general feedback on technical problems.
  • childrens@bbc.co.uk - for contacting the presentation team of Childrens Television.
  • correspondence@bbcnc.org.uk- the address for all general BBC enquiries or comments.
  • crystal@oupc.bbc.co.uk - the address for a new series on Radio 4 called Diamonds, Rust and a Handful of Sand
  • iac@bbc-ibar.demon.co.uk - for BBC World Service Radio
  • Ice.Fact@bbc.co.uk@bbc.co.uk - For contacting the Independents Commissioning Office.
  • info@bbcnc.org.uk - for general enquiries about the BBC Networking Club
  • info@oupc.bbc.co.uk - for information about Open University programmes on the BBC.
  • interact@bbcnc.org.uk - For contacting the people behind 1FM's Interactive night on 26th March.
  • jcowie@scot.bbc.co.uk - For information on BBC Aberdeen.
  • lookeast@nc.bbc.co.uk- for contacting BBC East.
  • mark.goodier@bbc.co.uk - the address for listener correspondence with Mark Goodier.
  • newideas@bbc-sci.demon.co.uk - for mailing the New Ideas production team.
  • norfolk@nc.bbc.co.uk - for mailing the BBC Newsdesk at Radio Norfolk.
  • Outlook@bbc.co.uk - the address for the World Service magazine.
  • pov@bbcnc.org.uk - for getting in touch with Points Of View.
  • ptong@bbcnc.org.uk - for communicating with Pete Tong the essential Radio 1 DJ.
  • Radio1@bbc.co.uk - Now you can contact Radio 1 FM direct
  • Radio1.Thenet@bbc.co.uk - the address for the makers of the Radio 1 technology programme
  • the-net@bbcnc.org.uk - the address for the programme makers of BBC 2's The Net.
  • the.sky.at.night@bbc.co.uk- the super long-running popular astronomy show
  • today@nca.bbc.co.uk - The Radio 4 current affairs show.
  • topgeardata@bbcnc.org.uk - Comments, additions and changes re: Top Gear new car data pages.
  • topgearmag@bbcnc.org.uk - Editorial: Reader's Letters, comments, suggestions etc.
  • Travel@bbc.co.uk - Ceefax Travel
  • webweaver@bbcnc.org.uk- Yup, you guessed it!
  • Womanshour@bbc.co.uk - For access to the Radio 4 programme Womans Hour
  • Westonline@bbc.co.uk - The 'Westminster Online' programme
  • yef@bbcnc.org.uk- The address for contacting Youth and Entertainment Features

Next, Babbage. Who's Babbage?, you might ask - and the webweaver expects you to. "Who's Babbage? Well, he's the BBC's Internet mascot and guide. He's an orang-utan and he's named after Charles Babbage, the famous Victorian inventor of the Difference Engine. These pages are his attempt at hacking a path through the WWW info-rainforest for you. If you think something important is missing, please mail webweaver@bbcnc.org.uk or from here if your browser supports mail. You can also send off for an automatic information sheet from info@bbcnc.org.uk or from here."

As well as Babbage's Mentor Scheme and The Internet Directory ("where you can check to see whether a certain organisation has got a public on-line presence"), Babbage offers a guide to searching the web - serving those for whom browsing by nested directories is simply not enough.


Finally, a programme item. From World Service Radio's New Ideas programme for week beginning February 20th 1995, we have an item on an invention from Japan with a lot of potential:


Flash forward almost thirteen years, and the future of the e-book is still uncertain.

We'll spare you for now the details of Top Gear's "Full Metal Racket audio tape", from which you can listen to extracts such as "1962 Ferrari GTO V12 with voice-over (Sun audio format 204k)".

Happy New Year!

Alan Connor is co-editor of the BBC Internet Blog.


  1. At 12:21 PM on 29 Dec 2007, Andrew Bowden wrote:

    Fantastic! I just love the complete randomness of those emails and who they get sent to :)

  2. At 09:31 AM on 30 Dec 2007, Martin wrote:

    Some of the domains have the potential to absolutely confuse listeners too - @nca.bbc.co.uk (News and Current Affairs) could easily be confused for @nc.bbc.co.uk (the BBC internally use NC as an abbreviation for Norwich), which you might feasibly think was somebody getting @bbcnc.org.uk wrong...

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