Hearsay originated in the late 1980's - at that time the internet did not exist for most people. Communications consisted of a number of things, Viewdata (Prestel in the UK, Minitel in France), talking to mainframe computers on local networks or by modem (DEC and Tektronix terminal emulatiions), and bulletin board systems (ANSI). Hearsay could handle all these.
Hearsay 1 was published by Beebug in 1988. At that time Acorn's ARM based desktop computers (Archimedes) did not run RISC OS, rather the OS that came before RISC OS - Arthur OS 1.2. This was the era when Acorn could not build a computer with a serial port that worked. The OS did not support more than one desktop application at a time, so Hearsay 1 took over the whole machine.
Hearsay 1 was the first big program I wrote, I could say it was the best, probably truer to say it was closest to the leading edge. It got reviewed in Personal Computer World (all I recall is that they accused me of devising a 'write only' language for automated interactions with hosts).
1987 was a turning point for the personal computer world, affordable IBM PC compatibles appeared in the shape of the Amstrad 1512 and 1640. These shipped with the GEM desktop operating system and had a mouse. I'd done extensive research into DOS, text mode communications software (Procomm was a favourite). I had seen one other desktop communications program, but they were rare.
Opposition for Hearsay came from ArcTerm (Hugo Fiennes) and ArcComm (Peter Gaunt). However Acorn had arranged comms software to be available at the launch of the Archimedes - (can you tell me the name of it?).
Hearsay 1 was written using a machine with two floppy discs (and no hard drive). A disc swop was required as part of the compile/link sequence.
Back then it was possible to make serious money selling communications software for home computers - recall the example of Pace whose 'Commstar' ROM for the BBC got their business off the ground.
Hearsay 2 was published by Beebug in the middle of 1991. It did a lot more than the earlier version. It shared the desktop and it had the much desired scripting language. Schools wanted Minitel (part of teaching French).
At that time there were constant rumours that British Telecom would bring out a 'level 3' viewdata service. This was the advanced graphics system from Germany. What actually happened was that BT pulled the plug on their "Prestel Micronet" service - presumably after 10 years they'd had enough.
Beebug came to the conclusion that communications software was a minority interest, just for the experts. Hearsay 2 was not as successful as Hearsay 1 (there were not lots of new Acorn users). In 1992 Demon internet appeared, I bought their service at once, I told Beebug they had to as well, but we had no appetite to extend Hearsay to work with the internet.
- RISC OS source code of Hearsay (updated 2nd July 2020)
- Scanned copy of the manual - see this page for how to get it
- Documentation for setchannel() script language function
- Download version of Hearsay
- Hearsay disc 1 and 2 contents
- Program home page