Tandata Marketing LTD started in 1981 as part of Tangerine Computer Systems Ltd. It was aimed more on telecommunications, such as modems, and new solutions to connect users to the new Prestel system – it could be described as the internet as we know it today. After 2 years developing and helping in the creation of the British Prestel network, in 1982 Tangerine decided to sell the company to Applied Petroleum.
In 1983 Tandata, after a deal with The UK’s Bank of Scotland, the first home banking service was set up for customers of the Nottingham Building Society (NBS). Tandata had to supply the Link to Prestel Home link system, and released the TD1400 and TD1600 terminals to access the Prestel system and banking facilities. The idea of buying, paying and chat with other users was amazing for the time. In 1984 development started on a new project codenamed Minerva. The idea was to design a desktop computer with a built in modem, hands free phone, wireless keyboard, and additional software packages such as word processing, spreadsheet and diary. It was mainly based for business users but the price was also reachable for home users.
Tandata Management focused all resources on Minerva and in 1986 the product was launched. The machine was successful but after a few weeks the machines started to return back as faulty. The problem seemed that after some months one had to reset the machine in order to function back to normal losing all the data stored in it. To make things even worse Tandata did not supply a way to backup your data from the machine. After several months of testing and investigation the problem seemed to originate in the ZIF Socket that was holding the Battery Backup RAM. As problems continued and with users complaining of loosing data, Tandata came out with another model this time with a backup device built into the machine for backup but by the time the engineers identified the problem, the end consumer went for something more reliable. In the beginning of 1988 Tandata entered a financial crisis due to Minerva and eventually the company was sold to AB Electronics in Wales – the company that fabricated Tandata PA. The company continued to produce other Prestel based machines for banking, and selling them across the UK, but in the beginning of the 90’s due to the introduction of the World Wide Web, Prestel started to lose clients. The company continued under different shareholders and kept on selling other communication devices for internet, but by the beginning of 2001 Tandata Marketing LTD was completely dissolved.
Tandata seemed to be ahead of its time and if the company had a greater success in the Minerva project maybe today the World Wide Web could be different then how we know it. This is just an opinion however, what we know for sure is that in the 80’s we had a taste of today’s Internet, where one could receive messages and play games between two machines share files, read news, shopping, and do banking transactions and all this from a tiny machine with 16k ram on it.