I bring to you a tale of two entities, Wavey Davey Winder and the Net. Both have undergone many changes, both have grown stronger through adversity, and both are gonna be around for a heck of a long time to come yet.

Wavey Davey

Let me introduce myself, and at the same time relate how the face of the Internet has changed over the years here in the UK. I can accomplish both tasks with the same tale: The Many Faces of Wavey Davey.

For David Winder it all started in 1963. The Internet took a bit longer to arrive in the UK. However, there are some remarkable resemblances between the young Davey and the fledgling Internet

  • We were both rather ugly, but showed a strong potential.

  • We were both extremely naive.

  • We were both carrying a monkey.
Baby Davy Winder

Ugly? Well sure, did anyone really enjoy using that geeky text only interface?

Are there really people who boast about the fact that they understand raw Unix? Do these people ever score at parties?

Naive? Well that much is obvious.

To think that many people, in the UK mainly the academic community - computer science students and mad professors alike - actually believed that the Internet would be their own private playground forever!

Er, and what about carrying a monkey? OK, so I lied about this one.

Whilst I was, and I cannot tell a lie, carrying a monkey, the Internet wasn't. Although many people were using the Net to spank their intellectual monkeys.
As if by magic the shopkeeper appeared and transported Davey Winder 25 years onwards into 1988, and a wheelchair. I'd been a pretty normal guy. I got through school, went through a succession of jobs, ended up developing land for a large horse racing company. Good career, homely wife, two kids, three cars and no sense of belonging to anything. And then a miracle happened, I almost died. I was struck down by a virus which ate my brain, or at least some of it. A year in hospital and much misery later, I re-emerged into the world - unable to walk, unable to talk, barely able to think and certainly in no fit state to dance a rumba. I had the chance that so many are denied, the chance to be re-born. And so I gave birth to Wavey Davey. Wavey used a computer to teach himself to read and write, to concentrate, and eventually to make friends again. My wife had left me, my kids were gone, my only solace was in large amounts of Jack Daniels.

Good for me that the Internet was being re-born in the UK at around this time. Interest in online services in general was just beginning to grow, with Prestel and its Micronet service leading the way. A new social medium had appeared, and a small but very vocal online community was growing there. Wavey Davey jumped right in.

As you can see, the re-born Wavey was something of an uncompromising figure - and this was true online as much as it was in the real world.

That's a phrase I don't like - being online is being in the real world for me, in fact it's a much better real world than the real one. But I digress. Micronet was closing down because the telecom company that owned it is as forward looking as a man with bottle bottom glasses. So having found a place where my mobility wasn't restricted by either my wheelchair or my appearance, I needed somewhere else to wander. And then I discovered Cix - home to anyone who was (and still is) anyone in the computer world of the UK. An online conferencing system, the biggest in the UK, and Wavey made a memorable impression on the day he joined. I disagreed with a posting I saw and jumped straight in asking the poster who the hell he thought he was. It turned out that he was computer editor of a national daily newspaper, that's who!

Glutton for punishment? Check out the rest of the saga of Davey and the Net.