It was in the early-90’s when the Internet really started to come in to its own, with Netscape’s web browser and Mozilla offering a consolidated way of searching ‘the web’, as opposed to using the rather awkward text-menu based indexing tools that had preceded them (Gopher, WAIS, Veronica and the like). From the 1960’s until the 90’s, e-mail and the routing technology that later gave rise to the internet had been the exclusive preserve of university geeks and some government departments. So, Sir Tim Berners-Lee really did do us all a great favour by coming up with the idea of linking all the bits together with the concept of a markup language (HTML) and a general viewing platform (a.k.a. ‘the browser’). The browser allowed users to hop around from host-to-host, from one hyperlink to another, like a demented cyber-spider. The whole lot suddenly seemed that much more coherent, and there seemed to be a point to it all. People began to realise that this thing might just have some potential. Instead of needing to navigate around the likes of ‘e-mail’, ‘ftp’, ’telnet’, ‘veronica’, ‘gopher’, ‘WAIS’ etc. etc…it became just ‘web’ and ‘e-mail’ – two concepts that most people could easily get their heads around, to the point of being able to say ‘I want that too !’…and the rest, as they say, is history.
At Mirai we had concluded that the Internet was going to be a big thing, and so set about wondering how we could make it more readily available not only to our existing customers base, but also to local folk in the community. Not to mention that it could also be turned in to a viable business operation that might possibly put food on the table and keep a roof over our fledgling little heads. So, we decided to develop and offer up our own locally-based Internet service. We knew that the technology needed to run such an operation was out there, as the likes of Demon and Pipex were doing a really good job of pioneering an emerging ISP scene for the mass-market at the time with their monthly dial-up modem access subscriber packages. Also, Solis on London Road in Sheffield were doing a good job serving up dial-up access in the area, and beyond. So, we thought we’d have a crack at developing our own, too.