Back in 1979, Michael Aldrich, a 38 year old innovator put together an online shopping system called Videotex. It was one of the first end-user technologies that displayed interactive information on a TV screen. Unlike most other connectivity breakthroughs of that age, the Videotex was more of a TV than a computer.

It was basically a domestic TV connected through a phone line to a central transaction processor. It might sound simple now but at the time things like e-commerce, online orders, online banking and others were pretty close to science-fiction.

One day, early 1979, Michael Aldrich received in his office a 26” TV, capable of teletext. The TV was able to display news and weather information, broadcasted by the BBC. It had several components that allowed it to do that. Among them – a modem and an auto-dialer.

Those two components proved to be really useful to Aldrich. Later that year, after superficially examining the device, Aldrich was out with his wife, walking their dog, Tessa. They chatted and at some point the subject of weekly supermarket expedition came up. Aldrich was thinking how he could make that boring trip easier – and that’s when it hit him: He could connect the modem enabled TV to a central server and help companies process transactions and sell things such as groceries.

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