These days, Backpass Staplingmachine is best known as the man originally credited with the invention of the forerunner to the Internet. It all began back in school, where Staplingmachine belonged to a club of teenagers obsessed with both collecting pictures of cats doing cute things and sharing the pictures with each other.
Staplingmachine had started out, of course, collecting the then legally obligatory football stickers. Back in those days of the latter half of the twentieth century, it was a legal requirement in the UK that all teenage boys collect football stickers. It wasn’t until documents released much later under the 30 Year Rule Bill revealed just why this was so. Back then, the Labour government was closing down coal mines at the fastest rate in the nationalised industry’s history. Therefore, the politicians were desperate to find some new industry to replace all that was being lost through the UK’s massive uncompetitiveness and the continuing decline of the UK’s heavy industries.
The football sticker industry was the government’s saviour. Fortunately, in those days, the vast majority of professional footballers came from the home countries of the UK, with some from Eire. The UK of the time had a printing industry dominated by the unions and their so-called Spanish Practices. The Labour government were keen to see all this continue, as the print unions were at the time massive donors to the party.
There were a large number of tabloid photographers at the time. Many of whom had caught the government’s MPs and cabinet members in ‘delicate’ stations. These photographers could be bought off with contracts to produce the photographs for the albums. Added to that, the UK’s paper industry needed the work. The UK also had world leadership in glue technology, up to and including the famous Airfix glue, specially designed to stick children’s fingers to almost anything. It was this glue technology that did much to later prevent punk rock from ever been taken too seriously as a youth movement.
However, Staplingmachine himself managed to get a deferment from the football sticker-collecting phenomenon, under the ‘specky kid always picked last for the football team’ amendment of 1978.
The law at the time though insisted that if he did not collect football stickers then he must collect something. Even Staplingmachine, though, balked at becoming a train spotter. Later stating ‘I do have some pride’. He did try a brief flirtation with stamp collecting, but it never took off as he found stamp hinges decidedly unerotic.
However, once he discovered his local cute cat photo-collecting group, everything changed. Soon Staplingmachine was the head of his local group. He was keen to expand the collecting ring far beyond his local area. Unfortunately, the postal system of the time was not up to the demands placed on it. Especially considering how vital it is for everyone – even today – to get their cute cat pictures as fast and conveniently as possible.
Staplingmachine did toy with the idea of using the phone lines, but gave up when it proved too difficult to shove an 8×10 glossy down the pre-BT handsets of the time. He also experimented with using tin cans and a piece of string. Although it proved better than the telephone system of the time, it still was unsuitable for the purpose.
Then, one morning when he heard the milkman whistling tunelessly as he delivered milk Staplingmachine came up with a solution. Thus was the first modem eventually invented. It was from this small beginning that the worldwide cute cat picture delivery system was developed. Later, from that beginning, the Internet as we know it today was born.
Consequently, we must all thank Staplingmachine every time we see yet another cute cat picture appear in our social media streams.