The Evolutionary Series

The IMP – Information Modelling Programme – Evolutionary Series of Prototype Tools and Concept Demonstrator Applications

The IMP Initiative

In 1989/90, IBM UK New Technologies Group at Hursley Park Winchester funded a concept demonstrator project “Interactive Hypermedia”.

I was able to pursue my vision of “Interactive Hypermedia” and my aim to pursue the ideas of “active and interactive” and “positive cognitive stimulation” – by employing a professional games programmer – to develop de novo software – in a short, speculative ‘Blue Skies’/’Blue Plane’ ‘’Type C’ Project’ for the development of a tangible testable prototype (rather than a 3 year academic research project) employing an academic postdoctoral computer scientist to employ the new generation of “expert systems” tools. That is the “D” from “R&D”.

With the support of IBM UK, I was able to establish the “IMP Initiative” at the University of Leeds – IMP being “The Information Modelling Programme” (of projects to develop and test prototype tools and demonstrator applications in the exploration of “information modelling” (as I envisaged it).

As an “interloper”, a “maverick” and with an idiosyncratic vision of computing – rather against the grain e.g. (in 1987) “you can’t do that”, “the hardware and software does not exit to support that”; “nobody would want to do that”; “besides, that’s our domain not yours” – it occurred to me that the designation, “IMP” besides standing for “The Information Modelling Programme” – might convey a notion of “a mischievous child”.


See: Book – “’Frameworks’: Making Sense of It All in The Age of Big Information; A Simple Methodology for Structured Thinking” published by The Brandspire Press, 2024

Evolutionary Series of Prototype Tools and Concept Demonstrator Applications

Under the umbrella of the “IMP Initiative” I was able to conduct the evolutionary series of projects to develop and test prototype tools and demonstrator applications in the exploration of “information modelling” (as I envisaged it).

As a Lecturer in Human Anatomy at the University of Leeds School of Medicine (and later also as Hon Lecturer in Psychology at The University of Hull and later Lecturer in Applied Information Systems in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds).

Starting out and for a lot of the time – as an “interloper”, a “maverick”, and “taking the food off our (the Department of Computing Science’s) table”. Unable to secure funding from the conventional academic sources. Seeking support from interested parties (in the “computer-based multimedia” which was rumoured to be on the horizon; and those looking forward to employing computers for teaching and learning) for small, short term speculative demonstrator projects.

Here I am very pleased (and eternally grateful) to mention those at the University of Leeds who supported my initiative in the early to mid 1990s: including – especially! – Noel Sheehy RIP, then a Senior Lecturer in Psychology; the Professor of Textile Industries (forgive my lapse in memory); a Senior Lecturer in the School of English Lynette Hunter; and the University of Leeds Librarian Reginald Carr.

Various interested parties asked us to build applications for teaching and learning, and to address issues and demonstrate ideas in their various domains.

My aim was to explore my vision of “interactive hypermedia” – as quickly as possible before the world caught up – a vision which evolved – and with the technical input of my colleague games programmer interested in programming language design, rapid prototyping, and GUIs – to embrace a strategy of open systems, platform independent, object-oriented applications distributed to multiple users on the network. This 2-3 years before the appearance of the WWW.

In 1993/4, we delivered to multiple departments and multiple students on the Campus Network – the “EFC Browser” Environment Foundation Course – an multi-author, interactive hypermedia application – situated on University Campus Servers – built with our custom prototype tool “GARDEN” employing UNIX/X11Windows/TCP-IP and the Eiffel the pure object-oriented programming language. With a simple hypertext hyper graphics mark-up language.

The Evolutionary Series