Rory Cellan-Jones

About Rory Cellan-Jones

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 29 Dec 07, 15:24 GMT

First, a confession. I never owned a Sinclair Spectrum; nor did I build my own PC out of spare lawnmower parts in my bedroom. I'm so old that the only computer at my school filled a room and only boys in white coats, who were prepared to feed it with ticker tape, were allowed near it.

I came late to technology, but that makes me all the more keen to communicate just what is exciting and important about it to as many people as possible.

Rory in 1991

I am a BBC lifer, having started out at as a researcher on Look North in Leeds in 1981, and spending most of my career as a television reporter covering business and industry. You know the kind of thing - standing in the rain outside collieries and car factories threatened by strikes or closure, trying to interview people who didn't want to talk to you. Then in the mid-'90s, I discovered the internet. Okay, it had been around for 20 years by then - but for me, it was a life-changing experience.

As a business correspondent, it was the source of a whole new kind of story, as new companies were born, flourished and crashed within months. I covered it all for the BBC - they even called me Internet Correspondent for a few months in 2000 before deciding that the internet was over after the dot com bubble burst.

I went back to my old job, but at home and at work, kept banging on about the profound changes the internet was bringing to our economy and the rest of our lives. Finally, the BBC relented and made me Technology Correspondent at the beginning of 2007.

I live in West London with my wife and two sons who play a big part in my technology journalism. Adam, who is 17, is my consultant on the games industry - despite no evidence of musical talent he took only hours to become a Guitar Hero on the Wii, while I am still being booed off stage. Nine year old Rufus has strong opinions on all kinds of technology (Dad, why are there no good games on your phone?) and his review of the $100 laptop has won wide praise.

So while I lack geeky credentials - as I keep telling my colleagues, I'm not the man to defrag your hard drive - I am excited by all the big technology questions. Who has built a really smart smartphone? Will Steve Jobs ever crack the video market? Who will win the battle to bring cheap computing to the developing world?

And I'm also convinced there is a huge BBC audience eager to discuss these issues and more. Speak to you soon.


  • 1.
  • At 02:45 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • chrissi lawrence wrote:

must be slightly older as computing wasnt even on the school curriculum when I left in 1976. Started as a trainee data processor and gradually have worked my way through technologies old and new until having a basic pc at home and just about scraping through ECDL course to be able to find my way through the jargon I am now finally starting to get interested in the rest of technology involved with data processing. Have even got through the ICT for practitioners course and now find people are starting to ask me the questions I would have been asking a few years ago... I must now try to learn how to send a text but as I dont like mobile phone (too much inane use)and hardly ever have mine switched on think I'll pass on this. Even my new home phone has a facility for sending messages... now where's the carrier pigeon!
Have found your blog very interesting to read and will certainly be back on it again.

  • 2.
  • At 06:21 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • D punam wrote:

hi yes , im even more beyond this young lady as it wasn't even thought of in my day but a roberts radio on valves was interesting , as for this internet era well its certainly pushing ahead , but do we need to use text? can we not just talk as we are inteded to do , maybe we won;t be needing that soon , since the fridge talks to cooker ect well not sure were im needed anymore?, but then someone has too order spares for the brokens i hope. good reading what actually do you report on.will be keeping an eye out for anything new.

Mr. Cellan-Jones - re your recent interview with Bill Gates in which the questions were submitted by BBC users. You mentioned that The Beeb received thousands of questions and you chose 15 to put to Mr. Gates. I'm sure you chose 15 very interesting questions, but to make the exercise truly democratic, wouldn't it be better to allow the users themselves to choose which questions are asked? I am co-founder of a website which allows people to do exactly this - and I would like to invite you to cooperate with us should you decide on another exercise in the future where BBC users are invited to put questions to Public figures. I honestly believe that such cooperation would make the experience for your users more satisfying and add value to the final result.

first hdtv with wireless?
I don't think so.
I had one about 18 months ago. see url

"Who will win the battle to bring cheap computing to the developing world?" - One of your remarks but this is a very deep and profound question, perhaps not for the obvious reason.
Take a focus on where the BIG spend is - it is in the business software market. My concern is that the global vendors who have successful exploited in developed countries their expensive and complex solutions will turn to the developing countries and their governments to exploit in the same way. We could see Billions of "aid" money disappear into IT projects and no reason to believe success rates will be any better. To find the answer to your question requires removing complexity in software that support people recognising they are the source of information in any organisation.
I am going to put down a claim here - have a look at a new white paper "Simplify IT More for Less" on . A radically new yet simple way to build solutions. Why has none else done it? Probably because it is business driven not technology led.... and UK innovation at its best!
PS apologies for promotional aspect but people need to know there is an answer and be able to understand the logic.

  • 6.
  • At 11:54 PM on 29 Feb 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Dear Rory

The plural of euro is euro. Please correct your articles.


  • 7.
  • At 04:08 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Andrew Norris wrote:

Rory. You came late to computing and lack technical knowledge. You are more of a computer user. That means, like many here, you do not understand the technical issues involved. Especially how MS is holding back their standard, and so preventing others from making an OS that will run most of the world's existing software base. Yes I did start with a ZX-81, and programmed it in machine code, and have been a programmer since. It does put you at a disadvantage, and me at an advantage, so I kindly suggest you consult a professional expert to teach you the ins and outs.

It is always important to do reporting in context. The fine may be large, but MS is a very large company. The largest the world has ever known. So the fine is quite small on a relative scale. It may be more sensational to say it is the largest fine, and support views that MS is having a hard time. It makes me wonder, as the BBC has a similar kind of monopoly too? Certainly the reporting seems biased compared to other press reports I have seen. If you look into that and the background behind it you will see: monopoly. Only a much larger fine would have an impact and get them to change course - that is how big the monopoly has got them to be.

In reply to Neil Williams and others. You miss the real issue. It is that MS locks anybody out from creating a compatible OS. They OWN the standard in which all software is written. And have done for some time. How fair is that? It's a little like owning the C language (which would just as be crazy). Unless they give out details and allows others to use it - nobody else can make an OS that will run the software that Vista runs. And I unlike many here understand this, as I am an experienced programmer who knows about this area. That is why the EU are so annoyed. People here really should look into it before having a go at the EU. They express opinions and make assumptions, including reporters I am saddened to see. There is a massive monopoly stopping others writing an OS that runs the world's professional software. It's crazy. It is why MS get the biggest ever fine. If only Mozzila or IBM or Dell were allowed to make a compatible system. Then we would have free competition. One that can run all the packages people are used to, and a much larger range than is present (and free) from Linux.

If this is not a monopoly - and I do not know what is. But being a computing professional and not a member of the public or a reporter who just makes assumptions, I know better.

On a related point, every other business MS have gone into they have been beaten - despite using their monopoly to invest more than the whole existing competitors put together. Take the games industry. Still beaten by a vastly underfunded Nintendo.

Take the FireFox browser. Just look at the ratings from users on the websites - to see how superior it is to the MS offering. Could we image how much better a product we could have than Vista if Mozilla corporation were allowed to make operating systems? They would get the finding to do it I am sure.

It is a shame the EU did not give them a much bigger fine - to finally get them to allow others to make OS systems that can run the world's software. It's not hard for them to do so. Why not do it? They are feared of the competition. For the first time: professional competition.

It seems to me that BBC reporters are mainly chosen because they have the skill to look authoritative on the screen, over actual knowledge and industry experience.

  • 8.
  • At 06:53 PM on 01 Mar 2008,
  • Rory Cellan-Jones wrote:

Re Andrew Norris(no 7)

Andrew, this is a very bizarre reading of my post about the battle between Microsoft and Brussels. If you read it carefully you will see that at no point do I suggest that Microsoft is being hard done by. I do quote some of the emails that have come into the BBC making that suggestion - but go on to outline the Brussels view that its regulation is proving more effective than that tried and then abandoned by the US Department of Justice.

I may not have a technical background but I do have nearly two decades of experience in covering the business world. Which means that I fully understand that the free market does not mean - as some others on this blog have suggested - that companies should be free to use monopoly power to stifle innovation. I have spent many years covering issues of regulation and competition - and nobody either in Brussels or Washington is seriously arguing that laissez-faire means letting giant corporations do exactly as they please.

I'm a BBC correspondent so it is not my job to take sides in disputes like this. All I can do is set the scene, try to explain a bit of the background and let the debate continue.

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