Jumping from Web and Scaffold
In 1993 JumpStation was born!
But what’s JumpStation? I hear you ask.
Well, JumpStation was Google, five years before Google was invented, a paradigm shift in search engine performance invented by Stirling University graduate Jonathan Fletcher.
Despite his First Class Honours degree, Fletcher couldn’t get the grant he needed for a PHd in Glasgow, so he stopped on at Stirling University as a Systems Administrator. He had so little money he had to stay with friends, or else sleep on the lab floors at the University.
And it was during these latter nocturnal stopovers that Jonathan Fletcher had his Great Idea: JumpStation would employ exactly the same system Google would go on to do, using indexes, keywords and web-robots to search the internet for URL sites.
He launched it in December 1993 and by 1994 JumpStation had 275,000 entries spanning 1,500 servers. It won a Best of the Web award, and yet, despite all this, Fletcher just couldn’t get the financial backing and investment he needed to continue JumpStation’s development, not even from his alma mater, Stirling University.
The project was discontinued; another young hero fallen by the wayside for lack of someone to believe in him.
So where is Jonathan Fletcher now?
Does anyone know?
What has he gone on to invent or achieve?
I’ve Googled him, but he seems to be below the Google radar.
Perhaps I should have tried JumpStation…
And staying in Stirling, 1993 was also the 150th anniversary of the last public execution in the shire, when Allan Mair was hanged in Broad Street. This doesn’t seem so extraordinary until you know that Allan Mair was 84 years old, when he viciously beat his 85 year old wife to death with a hammer, or possibly a stick. He is the oldest person to have been executed in Scotland (at least so far,) and vast crowds turned out to see his hanging. It was the most dramatic highlight of the cultural year, particularly when, despite the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, he gave a long and bitter speech once he had been carried to the scaffold in a chair:
The meenister o’ the parish invented lies against me. Folks, yin an’ a, mind I’m nae murderer, and I say as a dyin’ man who is about to pass into the presence o’ his God, I was condemned by the lies o’ the meenister, by the injustice of the Sheriff and Fiscal, and perjury of the witnesses. I trust for their conduct that a’ thae parties shall be overta’en by the vengeance of God, and sent into everlasting damnation. I curse them with the curses in the Hunner an’ Ninth Psalm: ‘Set thou a wicked man o’er them’ — an’, hold on, hangman, till I’m done — ‘An’ let Satan stand at their richt haun. Let their days be few, let their children be faitherless, let their weans be continually vagabonds; and I curse them all...
But the hangman did not hold on. He’d had enough, high time the murderer met his end. But Mair wasn’t going easy and, despite his great age, he managed to get his hands free and started grabbing at the rope about this throat, extending the time of his strangulation so that eventually the hangman had to pull down upon old man Mair’s legs until he was dead.
It’s rather a shame that he was executed in 1843 and not thirty or so years later, because it wasn’t until 1875 that William Marwood, a cobbler turned executioner, from Horncastle in Lincolnshire, invented the trap-door drop. This meant that, together with the use of a long rope, and a knot tied snugly at the point of the jaw under the victim’s left ear, the moment the trap-door opened the prisoner would drop seven or eight feet, and, at the same time the head was snapped back as the rope tightened, thus crushing the spinal cord and causing instant unconsciousness.
A much more humane way of going, if you've got to go at the end of a rope.
As Marwood was fond of saying: They hanged ‘em; I execute ‘em.
A fine legacy indeed.