back to article UK internet pioneer Cliff Stanford has died

British internet pioneer Cliff Stanford, founder of Demon Internet, died last week. Stanford also set up Redbus Investments, which put money into a number of projects including co-location and data centre facilities (Redbus Interhouse) and an early online film service (Redbus Films), and was a well-known chess enthusiast and …

  1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Sad news.

    Demon was a great company to deal with. The 1997 sale tipped it over the edge any onto the slippery slope of 'money more important than customers' (though it subsequently got worse). RIP Cliff.

    1. tony72

      Re: Sad news.

      I don't recall being aware of who founded it at the time, but Demon was my first ISP, at a time when there was no local POP in Aberdeen (oh, the long-distance call charges I ran up), when I was a student. Supra 14.4k dial-up modem back then. A couple of jobs later on, I was called upon to choose an ISP to get the company online, and I chose Demon out of familiarity I guess, and as far as I recall, we were with them for many years until that company ceased to exist, running on a couple of ISDN lines. Good times.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Sad news.

        I was one of the first 1000, I think, and used to dial in to clootie.demon.co.uk.

        Cliff Stanford was also a railway enthusiast, and very active at one time on uk.railway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sad news.

          My first ISP was Demon; I was also based in NE Scotland, though I don't recall the dial in address. I was helping out a charity in the 90's and Demon gave us a domain and webspace. It disappeared after the sale and I had to shift everything to a new host (for a while, that was a group that ran a number of UK forums on Compuserve).

          I remember Wintermute, too, though never used it.

          I wonder if any in Aberdeen remember the private city network used by the oil&gas industry back then. This was the time when BP's internal network spoke to the rest of the world through a server based in the USA (Cleveland, if my memory hasn't become corrupted after all these years). There were times, when working for BP, it was quicker to dial out through a modem from my desk than use the company system - the days of the Psion3a and its AA powered modem, too!

          Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...

          1. Soruk

            Re: Sad news.

            Wintermute also operated the Cyberia cyber cafe next door to their machine room. This closed when Wintermute got borged by IFB (Internet for Business, formerly Roaring Silence Company).

        2. tezboyes

          Re: Sad news.

          A little later than you, I joined just after they put a bank of 8 (should have been 14) lines in Malcolm's place in Sunderland - making it possible for us in the North East to join in.

          Sympathies to Sylvia, who I remember from d.i.s.amiga back in the day before she met Cliff.

          1. Boothy Silver badge

            Re: Sad news.

            Good old demon.ip.support.amiga

            I spent many hours chatting away to people on that channel, most of the time not actually Amiga related!

            We even organised a couple of in person meetups. A big Amiga weekend at someone's house in Hazel Grove I think. And another more casual country side get together, which included meeting up with a couple of lasses from the USA, and we were making bets on them turning up and being guys, but nope.

            Good groups of people on #d.i.s.a

      2. John Riddoch

        Re: Sad news.

        Aberdeen had Wintermute, I think I was with them before Demon. The Wayback machine shows my site on Demon from 97 to 2001 before I moved to ADSL, so I suspect I must been on Wintermute in 95 (when I left uni and lost the free access there) until moving to Demon in 97. IIRC, Wintermute folded or something, so that probably precipitated my move...

        1. tony72

          Re: Sad news.

          I was with Wintermute after Demon, I don't think Wintermute existed when I signed with Demon. I finished uni in '96, and I was with Wintermute by then, so I would guess they started up in '95.

      3. Lotaresco

        Re: Sad news.

        It got worse when Thus plc introduced their "Crap Legal Team[1]" and started to accuse good customers of aggravated mopery and demanded that we all indemnify Demon for its legal costs - without limit. I voted with my feet at that point. It was obvious that under Thus, Demon had become one of the corporate walking dead.

        [1] Mutated from "Crack Legal Team" by the users of demon.service

        1. tezboyes

          Re: Sad news.

          That and the gagging orders, but I literally can't write about that !

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Demon Internet

    Was one of my first ISPs - great company and consistent/good internet on dial up.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Demon Internet

      Yes, I started with Demon in the 90s. It was them or the more expensive pipex. I had the US Robotics modem and I plugged it in and followed the instruction for ftp to "you are now connected to a computer in the USA" which I think was in Virgina,.

      I remember that moment, I had trouble believing it.

      Then into their little ASCII text based UI to usenet and pop email, never looked back.They did eventually become a victim of their own success and became too slow to use.

      I think the other chap, Chris Goodall survived the LAdbroke Grove rail crash.

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Demon Internet

        They did eventually become a victim of their own success and became too slow to use

        That happened a few times.

        I recall in the early days (I think I got onboard when they had around 400 customers) they used to have a graph of user numbers over time. If you knew your history, you could point at each flat spot and say "that's when X was struggling" - where X could have been "running short of dial-in ports so you couldn't get connected, or the mail system getting overloaded, or ... Then when they solved a problem, the graph would continue its exponential curve upwards.

        They had a lot of problems to solve - stuff people take for granted now. Back then, email meant SMTP - but SMTP wasn't designed for intermittently online devices. So as a first workaround you had to go online then (from memory) finger the mail server to trigger their software to trigger the mail server to spit out it's mail to you. Later they integrated that into the dial-in software. POP was only just appearing, and IMAP wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye.

        They were "interesting" days. Thanks Cliff.

  3. spireite Silver badge

    Demon memories

    Demon were my first ISP, and I stayed faithfully with them...Pricewise they were upper end, but they were bloody good. I moved off them when ADSL became popular and went to NDO.

    NDO were also bloody good at the time. But like everything, they were taken over and it went to hell in a handcart..

    Good memories!!

    USR Robotics modems, and the fact I had to pay my phoneline into my parents (they couldn't stand the time I was online and they couldn't call when I was on!)

  4. tiggity Silver badge

    Shame

    Remembered fondly.

    Longer ago than I wish it was (feeling far too old at this news) I signed up to Demon, in those days there was still a change of connecting with Clifford directly if problems arose. He did a great job in kick starting affordable internet access for the home user.

    Always thought it a shame he sold Demon, sad to see the decline of a once trail blazing ISP (retired my Demon account a while ago now)

  5. Jonathon Green

    I’ve heard the phrase “end of an era” a lot of times.

    For quite a few of us who first enjoyed our own connection to the internet after sending off a paper form and a cheque then receiving a photocopied list of phone numbers, some instructions/advice on installing and configuring a TCP/IP stack, and our our initial login credentials in the post this might actually be exactly that…

  6. Peter Galbavy
    Pint

    Thanks for everything

    As someone who was one of the initial tenner-a-month group and went to work for Demon Systems in 1994 - Demon Internet didn't have the budget quite yet - I moved into a world of crazyness and long hours and fun. I am not sure any other organisation, in any business sector, had the net growth rate that Demon did for those first few years - 15% *net* new subscribers per month was typical. This meant innovation, expansion, and a stubborness that explempified Cliff in so many ways. He knew how to get the most out of his staff and make us feel it was a privilege, which did wear this something but with hindsight was a wonderful time.

    I ended up thinking about UUCP in the shower this morning, probably because of this sad news milling around my mind over the weekend, and thinking that the kids today never had it this good :-)

    On a personal level he helped me buy my house and pretty much forced me to pass my driving test and I will be eternally grateful to him for both and so much more.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Thanks for everything

      Now you've made me think of UUCP as well, and the joys of wrangling apps like CCMail to dynorod message queues to unblock them. And then a few shudders remembering Compuserve, CIX, and DDCMP.

      Those were the days.

      I never worked for Demon, but had fun working with them. Personally, I think they pioneered more than just affordable Internet, but also key components like the LINX, Nominet, IWF that helped keep regulators away. Plus provided some fun, like the Doom Patrol. Woe unto mere mortals who dared trying to flood ping network engineers sitting on most of the UK's core routing infrastructure. Or the time Demon involuntarily relocated some of it's kit to a lower floor. I think UKNOF had a presentation on their original architecture. There's a perception that an ISP was racks of modems. Which I guess was kinda true, except for the lack of decent rack mountable modems. So until things like the Ascend Max & TNT came along, one had to improvise.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Thanks for everything

        Or the time Demon involuntarily relocated some of it's kit to a lower floor

        Story time??

        1. Peter Galbavy

          Re: Thanks for everything

          I am assuming this is the sinking floor in Hendon Lane.

          The original Demon offices where a converted church hall (42 Hendon Lane) and the large space at the back of the building was slowly transformed into a machine room with aircon etc.

          What no-one bothered taking into consideration was the effect that the weight of literal tons of rack mount equipment would have on the old suspended timber floor. It slowly, and then not-so slowly sank. We first noticed when someone asked if the skirting board was badly fitted and was it supposed to be so high off the floor?

          Hmm.

          I had by then moved on from cable-monkey work (these hand almost single-handedly wired all the rack-mount modems and pop serial cables up to and including the 640 Energis lines) to more esoteric desk bound labour and only was involved in the recovery at second hand. It was a fun time - everything about it was a fun time.

          There are many stories. I wonder if my demon.announce posts are still around - we were quite honest about failures in those days.

          1. bigphil9009

            Re: Thanks for everything

            Some of them seem to be! Not sure if any of them are yours though (a search for "Paul") only yields a few posts.

            https://groups.google.com/g/demon.announce

            1. Peter Galbavy

              Re: Thanks for everything

              Yeah, I looked. Some of mine are there but many of the more details / entertaining ones I recall are not. I must have a look in my email archives to see if I saved any,

              1. tezboyes

                Re: Thanks for everything

                Yeah I can't remember exactly why, but I was checking Groups for something a little while back, and I'm sure there are a bunch of my posts missing. Possibly over use of FW ;)

          2. moreirdan

            Re: Thanks for everything

            I was woodend.demon.co.uk and I worked for Mercury/C&W . I rang up one day to ask if I could come have a look round and was welcomed to see it. I remember servers all over the place and some USR modems mounted on what looked like plastic coffee cups. One had failed and the upper half of this tower of modems was leaning over. Although a customer, Demon gave me a start in the Internet and I ended up eventually working as an Engineering Fellow at Comcast. Cliff was an important bloke in the early UK Internet and should be remember accordingly.

  7. Victor Ludorum

    RIP Cliff

    Demon were my first ISP back in 94/95 (memory is now hazy), and I stayed with them pretty much until ADSL and ntl: came along.

    I had a 19200 baud modem as that was the fastest the serial port on my Archimedes would run! Then moved to a PC with Trumpet Winsock and a 33k modem, which I eventually upgraded to a 56k that would reliably connect at about 43k. Those were the days!

    I don't miss the phone bills though!

    1. stungebag

      Re: Phone bills

      You mostly got used to the phone bills, especially if your POP was local rate. I was able to access Chelmsford, about 30 miles away, as local. But Chelmsford went down for a few weeks so I had to use a London POP, also about 30 miles away but A rate. My monthly bills shot up well into three figures.

      Another notable feature of Demon was its quirky customer support. Knowledgable, yes, but sometimes very rude. The name Richard springs to mind.

      1. tezboyes

        Re: Phone bills

        LOL - to be fair there was more than one.

        Clayton - of Turnpike, who was almost unfailingly polite, even when essentially calling a FW a FW.

        Ashton- who was less so, he'd just call you a FW straight out, otherwise though it was entirely dependent on the quality of the question.

        Both of whom, amongst others, were hugely helpful when I pulled the demon.tech.modems FAQ together. Which would never have happened if Cliff hadn't taken that gamble to set Demon up and let us all in.

        1. Vestas

          Re: Phone bills

          I remember Richard Ashton - he setup the nospam.demon.co.uk which so many of us used back then. Also he was a regular (like me) on the comp.os.os2 newsgroups - his "aggressive" dialing script written in REXX was a thing of beauty, you'd be on your third redial while Trumpet Winsock users were still listening to an engaged tone :) He definitely didn't suffer fools gladly.

          I'm another of the initial Demon subscribers....

    2. arwel

      Re: RIP Clif

      Oh, the phone bills! I first got online in early 1994 with Compuserve and Cix on my little Atari 1040 ST and a 14.4Kb US Robotics modem, but they were all trunk calls, and so was the Fidonet site in Ipswich that I was a “point” of. OLRs were a godsend, but even so the first quarters’ phone bill after I got online was £360. That summer I was at the World SF Convention in Winnipeg and one programme item was a discussion of this new-fangled Internet thing, and we had an exercise to see how much we were spending on it - I was the last person with my hand in the air as the figure reached Cdn$720 (the exchange rate was exactly £1=Cdn$2 then), largely thanks to the Americans getting free local calls.

      I joined Demon in the summer of 94, and was cartref.demon.co.uk, shortly before Demon opened a semi-local PoP in Warrington which got the phone bills under a bit of control. I kept the node until Vodafone got their hands on it, but each successive new owner seemed to result in fewer services being offered for the money :(

      Thanks for everything, Cliff, and RIP.

  8. Dave559 Silver badge

    +++ ATH

    Sad news. My condolences to Cliff’s family and friends.

    Demon were just a little bit too expensive for my then meagre post-student budget (my path through dialup land was Spuddy, Zetnet, and then Force 9 (who introduced, hurrah, a no-charge dialup number!)), but without them the UK internet would definitely have been a much much emptier place (as the number of Demon users posting on usenet certainly showed), and I think we are all very grateful to them for taking that first step. Hopefully there is a Blinkenlicht for him out there somewhere.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Linux

    RIP Chris

    Demon was my first contact with the Internet, and in the early days you could actually speak to people on the phone to sort out problems,

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: RIP Chris

      Andrews and Arnold still have intelligent and helpful human beings answering phones.

  10. Nigel Whitfield.

    I was one of the original customers, via the CIX forum. I sweet-talked Cliff into letting me have a nine character hostname, though the usual limit was eight, so that I could be stonewall.demon.co.uk

    For years, I think I caused immense frustration to various Demon engineers who had to put special cases into bits of code to cope with the anomaly.

    Back at the start, it was a very geeky thing to set up - using things like ka9q or Trumpet on a PC, or dicking around with PPP and SLIP on Linux/UNIX systems, which were largely new to people in the UK at the time; before then it was BBS, systems like Cix, Compuserve, or a hookup to UKnet's UUCP service - which I think still charged 2p per kb for incoming international email back then.

    So a direct TCP/IP connection was pretty revolutionary. Many, of course, came along and tried to imitate - not least Pipex, from whom Cliff got his first leased line. And yes, probably someone else would have set up a consumer ISP in time.

    But Cliff was the first here; both that, and the way he raised the funds to make it happen make him a very significant person in the UK's net history.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Many, of course, came along and tried to imitate - not least Pipex

      Unipalm was around in the late 80's, its initial focus was selling TCP/IP software for the PC but branched out into leased line Internet access, which was obviously targeted at the growing number of businesses running Unix boxes/workstations - this business was initially branded PIPEX before being spun out as PIPEX in 1990.

      1. Keith Oborn

        PIPEX

        I was involved, in 1990, with a group called the UK Internet Consortium which was vaguely trying to establish a community-owned ISP. Peter Dawe of Unipalm was a member. We essentially managed to delay him launching PIPEX by about 9 months - he waited while we messed about - until in the end we said "OK Peter, please just do it, we give up".

        Prior to that I worked for the company that supplied machines to the University of Kent to run UKnet on. They launched a leased line service in 1990 as I recall. I joined another company that was the first customer, and noted that PIPEX were doing the same service for 1/3 of the price. So I called UKC to cancel. It was sad: I knew the guys well, and this call essentially killed their new venture. Mind you, having a University computing dept actually running a commercial venture is not overly wise. Quote "Our directors tend to be emeritus professors. Decisions are hard to come by" ;-)

    2. Lon24 Silver badge

      In the early days Pipex and Demon were almost a duopoly in the dial-up market. Pipex specialised in commercial accounts and Demon cornered the hobbyists. Which meant Pipex tended to overload during the day and Demon in the evening.

      So I signed up as a Demon reseller to my commercial clients to speed up their daytime access and used/abused their old Pipex accounts in the evening. Perfect 24/7 service for everyone.

      brains.demon.co.uk (retired). Dammit, I can't remember my IP number anymore - a sure sign of IT dementia?

      1. Solviva

        Hmmm vague recollection 158.152.217.134 was mine - athletic - nothing to do with being athletic, but on the phone to sign up tried about 3 other logical things that were taken... In a slight panic what to say, looked across the room to see my brother's Russel Athletic bag and blurted out athletic which was available.

        1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

          Mine was 158.152.202.35 when I joined in 1994... I miss that address, I've never remembered any other static address I've had for some reason!

          I remember someone at Support suggested Tetrix Reader Plug, which seemed like a fantastic thing at the time - pop on, download headers, disconnect. Choose what to download, reconnect and download, disconnect. Work out what to reply to, think better of it, rewrite it nicely and then reconnect and upload...

          It occurs to me that maybe if social media wasn't quite so instantaneous, people might be a bit nicer to each other on it!

          1. tezboyes

            Damn I can't remember my IP!

            But I do recall, getting home in a Friday from a week away at work. First thint, order a pizza, then I could dialup to start the download of a week of Usenet (and Altnet for the pedants :) and putting the washing in whilst waiting.

            The pizza would arrive about the time that News was sorted, so I'd eat that whilst reading everything but demon.local. Head out to the Mayfair, then get into d.l when I got back.

            Tell kids these days that ;)

          2. Solviva

            My version of that was get home from school, dial up at peak rates, I think 4p /minute. Go to thereg, right click on all the interesting articles & open in new windows, disconnect after less than 2 mins & commence offline reading :)

      2. maggi v

        RIP Cliff and thanks for the 'tenner a month' internet.

        If I remember correctly, brains.dcu used to do a ranking of the best Demon hosted websites; I was thrilled when the one I wrote got on the list!

  11. ChrisC Silver badge

    Demon was my first foray into home internet access too - started off with a dialup connection (bay13) in the mid/late 90's just as K56Flex modems hit the market, then migrated over to ADSL (sr71) as soon as that became available in my area, which saw me through to a house move in the mid 00's, at which point the availability of a Telewest Cable connection proved too strong to resist (epecially given the awful predicted DSL speeds from the local exchange) and thus ended my association both with Demon and with phone-line based internet access.

    Hard to imagne now just how big a deal it was to have a company like Demon providing easy (relatively speaking for the time) access to the internet at prices that the average home computer enthusiast could afford, or how radical it was for someone outside of academia or a few more enlightened businesses to have internet access in the first place. As someone else has already said, if Cliff/Demon hadn't done it then it's inevitable that someone else would have done it sooner or later, but all credit to him and the team he built up around him for making it happen in such a user-friendly manner.

  12. steamnut

    Sad news

    Demo was my first ISP. Initially on dial-up (US Robotics squawk squawk), then eventually ADSL. I stayed with them until Vodafone bought them. Vodafone were not going to support FTTC so I migrated to Zen where I have been ever since.

    The good thing with Demon was the technical support which was located in UK and manned by technical people that knew what they were doing.

    So sad to lose a genuine pioneer from those days.

  13. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Demon was my first introduction to the internet back in 93(?). We used it at work with a dialup modem (9600 of course) and a network of four Sun Sparcstations. That's when I decided to get it at home - using a REALLY crappy (even for the time) Toshiba 'laptop' that had a 2400-baud modem in it and a mono screen. I installed KA9Q and Demon's email software (remember punt.demon.co.uk?) and was able to exchange emails with my three work colleagues and also newsgroups - ah, who could not love uk.telecom? I used Demon until freeserve came along in 98, which offered much the same service but 'free' using the newly introduced 0345 numbers.

    But Demon is what really introduced me to the internet - before websites even. I must admit to not really seeing too much of a use for it as it stood at the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The best free connection was when Demon had local geographic number POPs and BT did free calls on Christmas and Boxing Day to local numbers. Don’t think BT thought about that scenario at the time.

      1. Mendy

        They also came in handy for the C&W 50p max-cost deal they did at weekends.

        The challenge for teenage me being to see how close I could get to 48 hours without a parent trying to use the phone.

      2. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

        I had someone who left demon because of those numbers. They were very religious, and most of the local access numbers ended "666", so it was a bit too much like devil-worship for them. If memory serves, they ended up going to FreeServe (remember them?) and that really was dealing with the devil...

        1. Soruk

          667 - the devil's ISDN number.

      3. David 132 Silver badge

        > Don’t think BT thought about that scenario at the time.

        Or when BT had “Friends and Family”*, a scheme whereby you could nominate a list of 5 or so frequently-called numbers and get free (or maybe it was just discounted) calls to them. Of course, it wasn’t long before the smarter home ISP users added their dialup POP numbers to the list. I recall a news quote from BT at the time, to the effect of “we didn’t think anyone would be sad enough to designate their Internet connection as a ‘friend’”!

        * maybe they still do? I haven’t been in the UK, or a BT customer, for many a year…

      4. Keith Oborn

        And that led to Freeserve, where the business plan (apocryphally written on a napkin on a train from Sheffield to London) was based on call termination revenues paid by BT to Energis.

  14. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Pint

    Demon

    = quakenet/world = Team fortress = team fortress classic.

    All on demon servers

    Spent more time there than staring at musty old texts about my degree ;)

    PS

    The demon TFC servers survived the great switch over to Steam for play and you could still ping them for a long long time even though valve had switched off the authorisation servers

    1. Mendy

      Re: Demon

      Ahh happy days.

      Though despite naming our qwtf clan the Demon Dispatchers in reference to the subscriber magazine I don't think we ever managed to get any swag out of them.

  15. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward
    Pint

    My first connection too

    I'd had a dial-up modem from around 1993, but apart from a few private bulletin boards and the like had not used it as much as I should, A job and house move in 1994 put hobbies on the back burner for a while, but come 1995 I was ready for the internet and Demon was the place that everybody went to.

    A lot to learn in those days of Win 3.11 , trumpet, KA9Q, winsock and all that as others have mentioned. No one has mentioned Turnpike yet? The turnpike dialler even had a clock-set routine which set your PC to the correct time each time you connected. Quite revolutionary back them.

    And as for - "Many of those who worked at Demon Internet have gone on to be very senior in telcos, infrastructure, and web giants today". Well,, many of those early-ish customer have also gone on to fairly high places and have had a good career. Hard to believe it is close on 30 years ago now.

    Thanks Cliff - you helped launch 10,000 careers.

  16. Norman Nescio Silver badge

    Me too.

    I was one of the early Demon subscribers, and pretty much everything I could have said has been said by previous commentators. All I can really say is 'Thank you', and hope that his survivors know how many people are grateful for what he did and enabled for them.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the well trodden path...

    ...from FIDOnet to CIX to Demon to, well a long and complicated career in IT. Dodgy 14.4K US import modem, astronomical phone bills despite the PoP in Warrington (which by a quirk of BT billing was local rate from both 051 and 061). Happy days. Is it true he had the car number plate TCP 1P?

  18. RegGuy1 Silver badge
    Pint

    Claridges

    Thanks for the link to the Claridges article. I never knew the guy, but from that article he sounded fun:

    Predictably, the 1,200-word account of champagne-fueled romps with two table dancers in Claridges, in his Rolls-Royce and his private jet confirmed he had the 'demon touch'.

    'Cliff doesn't have any inhibitions,' nude dancer Natalie said, breathlessly. 'Let me tell you - his bank balance isn't the only impressive thing about him. That man certainly has breathtaking assets.'

    RIP and enjoy a beer. :-)

  19. bazza Silver badge
    Pint

    Demon was my first ever ISP too, stayed with them for a long time.

    I remember one of the big advantages of Demon was that they'd got their own connection across the Atlantic. In those days, having reserved bandwidth on that oceanic crossing made The Web (i.e. US based servers) notably quicker.

    Thanks for getting us connected Cliff.

  20. hollymcr

    demon.sadnews

    Having had access to the internet at university, the world of BBS and CompuServe didn't cut it when I left in 92. I heard about Demon from a computer mag just after they started and signed up immediately, and was lucky enough to chat to Cliff about hostnames on the phone. The world of ka9q, the excitement of upgrading my 9600 modern to 14400 and beyond, the likes of demon.local and other groups, connecting to POPs long distance using Mercury Telecoms (I wrote the FAQ!), it seems so long ago and yet so present.

    Watching the AT commands thrown at my 4G modem still feels nostalgic, and a reminder of how far things have come. That tenner (plus VAT! plus call charges!) a month will forever be a special time for me. Kids today will never understand the disappointment of listening to the modem trying to connect only to hear the sound of your mother chatting on a call and the modem giving up!

    RIP Cliff, this is one demon.news post that's hit harder than expected. (holly.dcu)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      WTF?

      Re: demon.sadnews

      ...CompuServe didn't cut it when I left in 92...

      There would imply that there were years when Compu$pend did cut it. Do tell.

      1. hollymcr

        Re: demon.sadnews

        Ha! I wish. I do have fond memories of CS, which could be summed up as "leaving it"

  21. Peter Hutchinson
    Pint

    NO CARRIER

    RIP Cliff. I stuck with Demon through pretty much the entirety of the dialup era, and recognise a few old names coming out of the woodwork here. Fond memories of Usenet discourse with both Cliff and Sylvia over the years.

    Jumped ship to the Rev. Kennard’s nascent establishment when DSL started to become available - 2001ish I guess, Demon being but a shadow of its former glory by that point. Nowadays I live in the States, and would take either Cliff’s or Adrian’s service back in a heartbeat by comparison to what’s available here.

    1. Vestas

      Re: NO CARRIER

      Adrian is semi-retired in Wales now. Still posts occasionally on revk.uk

  22. Lotaresco

    A proper entrepreneur

    More than slightly eccentric and driven to achieve something. His Rolls-Royce fixation was much commented on and in the early days Demon made customers feel part of the team. I wasn't in the first 130 but I was one of the early customers in the first 200. I learned a lot at that time and it was my experience countering trolls, hackers, script kiddies, and net vandals that caused me to enter the weird world of information assurance. A career that has continued to the present day. I owe my income to Demon internet and more particularly to Cliff, Giles, Richard(s) and the rest.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: A proper entrepreneur

      What's often not mentioned was that the first Rolls-Royce was a very tatty Mk I Shadow in lady Penolpe pink.

  23. Mike Bunyan

    Unsung visionary

    Sadly we do not hear enough about or praise enough those who have vision and drive when they are most active.

    Demon was my first 'business' user internet facility shortly after it started up. The staff and support were excellent. One took time out to help me learn perl.

    My sincere condolences.

    Mike B.

  24. lotus49

    Pioneer

    I first encountered Cliff Stanford on the tenner a month Usenet group many years ago when Internet access wasn't a thing for private individuals. I got the 7th IP that Demon Internet issued (I still remember it even though I long since stopped using it) and it transformed my use of computers and was one of the factors that led to my pursuing a career in IT. I'm now the CISO at one of the UK's largest companies. Perhaps it would have happened without Cliff but I suspect it wouldn't.

    I was sorry to read of the legal issues he had later on but thank you, Cliff and RIP.

  25. Frank Leonhardt

    Not about the modems

    We all had modems at the time Demon started. Cliff's idea was to use them to provide direct IP connections to the public. But although I had dealings with Demon for the provision of a leased line (64k!), I remember Cliff as the local Apricot dealer from before then. He went through a phase of needing old Apricot Xis etc for some reason, and for some reason I had a load of them in my shed. He'd turn up from time to time with a load of cash and fill the boot of his BMW (? - Simon will know!).

    I liked him, and wish I'd kept in touch as we were decades overdue for a reminisce. Sad news indeed.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: Not about the modems

      Frank, I'd left by the time Cliff was doing Apricots, but I suspect the car was a fabulously wallowy, Peugeot 604 in JRG. At one time, before I met him, he'd had an American car with the numberplate PET 123, which he enjoyed driving in France because of how PET translates.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Not about the modems

        >he'd had an American car with the numberplate PET 123, which he enjoyed driving in France because of how PET translates.

        Funny, American cars are usually known for awful gas consumption, not the reverse...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why was it called Demon?

    I encountered someone who said he had been told off by his church for showing an email printout that said "demon relay" on it. His reply was that demons influence the whole Internet so at least this one is honest. He didn't say how well that went down with them.

    1. Simon Rockman

      Re: Why was it called Demon?

      Ok, here is the *real* story as to why it was called Demon. As I mentioned in the obituary, Cliff had a company called ImPETus, which wrote code on Commodore PETs. So the joke was our software was In PETs. That went broke because we charged too little for our really rather good software.

      Cliff started up again, with two other people. one of whom raced high-performance radio control cars competitively and successfully. The rules of indoor scale model racing are very tight, one of the regulations was a cost cap on the motors. The best at the time were Demon Power motors. So looking for a name for the reborn software company they chose the name Demon, because the colleague liked the name. That became Demon Systems and when Cliff's tenner a month took off, Demon Internet was born from Demon Systems.

      When ImPETus went broke Cliff laid me off, it was my first job out of school and Cliff was really, really good about it. That meeting, which I can still vividly remember 42 years on, turned Cliff from my boss to a friend. I learnt that firing someone is harder than being fired. He called around some friends to try and find me a job, and asked me to keep the keys to the office and the company credit card in case they could have me back.

      There is probably a revisionist name around why the company was called Demon, but when I see companies spending fortunes on branding I'll think of Demon and Amstrad that built multimillion businesses by just having a name the CEO liked.

  27. Snar

    RIP Cliff

    I met my partner in the early days of the Internet boom - I think it was 1988/9. She was working for a Quango and had this thing called email. I'd just started a new job and managed to negotiate a Compaq DX2/66 luggable PC.

    The whole idea of the Internet was to me at the time fascinating so subscribed to Demon using dial up with a Sportster 14,000 modem. I think the DOS package was Demon DIS? - then I got Trumpet Winsock running (pre-TCPIP stack in WIndows) and Mosaic 1.0 and an email client that can't remember. Had a lot of fun playing Doom on-line and thanks to Demon I introduced the company I was working with to the Internet and ran two lunch sessions and EVERYONE in the company (40+ people) came to see what it was about.

    I owe Demon a lot - I'm not directly involved in the IT industry - I work for a semiconductor manufacturer but do support our Ethernet switches and supporting software. I cut my teeth with Demon and will always have fond memories of the days of DIS and dial up.

    Demon was a brilliant company.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IagZIM9MtLo

  28. gbiz

    Demon were my first access to the internet, about the same time as i started with Linux (SLS with kernel 0.99pl5), so i guess some time around the end of 1992. I'd used uucp through work, but this was my first proper tcp/ip internet. In the Brighton local call area at that time we also had the option of Pavilion, but i went with Demon. I don't remember Mistral being an option, they must have started just after this.

    Modems were expensive, but i had an understanding boss who let me take home one of the work USR 9k6 modems each evening & weekend. I finally got my own modem after a 2 week job in NYC that needed modems for a backup ppp link between sites & we'd got a couple of the then still unratified V.fast spec (Boca iirc). When the job finished, the modems were surplus & i got to bring one back with me. Fortunately the modems at the Demon end supported that protocol & it connected at the full speed.

    Like a previous poster, i was stuck thinking of a hostname. I'd had tarka dhal with my dinner that evening, so i ended up with "tarka"

    I stuck with Demon until the end of the 90's when work (IBM) offered me the option of WFH including them paying for an ISDN line at home. I don't remember the reason for it, but for the ISDN i switched to Easynet, who shortly after started offering ADSL & IBM funded switching my home line to ADSL.

    My hazy recollection for the first couple of years online most of my time was spent downloading Linux patches. Binaries & full source tarballs were too large to download so I kept my system updated by downloading & applying patches & building from source. The kernel would take all night to build :)

  29. Lotaresco

    Among the good things he did

    The most notable good thing he did, the one that earned him a suspended jail sentence, was revealing the extent to which Shirley Porter had gone to conceal her assets of £34 million. She was facing a surcharge of £43.3 million due to her role in the "Homes for Votes scandal". Porter had transferred most of her wealth to other members of her family and into secret trusts, and had claimed assets were "only" £300,000. Cliff received information that showed where most of her assets were which lead to her having to settle her debts.

  30. GreetingsStarfighter

    VISP & Bandwidth Galore

    RIP. Worked there in 97 for a few years. Back in the day some companies wanted to offer their own internet services via those giveaway cd's and make money from it. Remember going into the likes of John Lewis and even the mighty Mesh Computers to sell the concept to them. Then moved into the leased line business unit and setup their channel. I recall some after hours Counter strike and back in those days the latency was a dream due to size of our pipe <cough>. Also, early years sight corruption due to there being no filters of what we could see being sent through the internet back then has scarred me for life. Great times until Thus...

  31. John Styles

    RIP

    I was a Demon customer in the relatively early days, I remember they had 071 and 081 (or 0171 and 0181, can't remember when the 1 was added) and a Warrington number, presumably as that's a local call from Liverpool and Manchester, or something like that.

    We had an account at work first, since we worked for a large American telecoms company that was completely incapable of providing internet access (I think they wanted to cross charge 30p per k or data or something like that). Another department had one too and did a website before the corporate marketing antibodies stamped it out in another front of marketing's perpetual war on information.

    I actually used Demon from home on a Mac, Demon provided a book with a disk with software - this was (just) before Netscape came out so I am thinking early 1994. I remember listening to World Radio Network (is that still going?) using RealPlayer on a 9600 baud modem. Amazing, really.

  32. Peter 26

    RIP

    Thanks for the good memories Cliff. That £10 a month brought me so much fun. I look back on those times fondly trying to figure out what an IP address, gateway and subnet mask was without any Internet to look it up! I can't remember how I overcame that, maybe downloading a guide from a BBS?

    Hayes AT commands memorised, using finger, SMTP, POP via telnet.

    That journey all started from £10 a month, he literally got us started in the Internet world.

  33. that one in the corner Bronze badge

    RIP Cliff

    Thanks for starting off the Internet Adventure for us.

    Along with a work colleague, I jumped straight onto the tenner-a-month group pretty much the day it appeared on CIX. Evenings hacking away to tweak KA9Q, especially when Tony decided to give it a text-based windowing UI, for PC-DOS: we posted that to the CIX group. (I can't recall if my Amiga port was ever posted; it was a bit embarasssing, a text-based app on the Amiga, especially as it already had support for PPP, if only it'd work for me!). Having a 'Net connection allowed us to learn and apply otherwise theoretical network programming skills.

    I hung onto a Demon account until the bitter end when email accounts were shut down (email address nostalgia over common sense, to be honest).

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    International Reach

    We took a usenet feed from Demon in Wellington, New Zealand back in 1993. Still got the scripts here!

    ping -c 1 demon.co.uk 2> /dev/null | grep "64 bytes from 158.152.1.65" > /dev/null 2>&1

    /usr/local/bin/slurp -d news.demon.co.uk > /tmp/slurp 2>&1

    It was my first job - I had a very knowledgable UNIX mentor who set this up, as at the time it was the only way to get the alt newsgroups in NZ without a University feed. When I moved to the UK a year later I was delighted to get a demon.co.uk address, used it for years.

  35. danielnashnz

    Cliff was always the distant manager type to me when I worked for Demon, but I knew Sylvia well - working with her in the Demon web-site team. Cliff made sure he helped his employees with the sale of Demon - we all basically had stock. I met my wife at Demon and we got a mortgage with the money from the sale. I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am and in the career I have had I not taken a punt on the new-fangled internet thing at Demon in 1995.

    Cheers Cliff

    RIP

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