"... a superb package, well thought out and fun to use" Computer Shopper magazine, December 1988
"The one thing that Stop Press, Tecnation's new desktop publishing package, can show the software industry is that even when a market looks over-crowded you can still find a niche by taking a new and imaginative approach." 8000 Plus magazine, February 1988
"All things considered this is an excellent package. The program is fast and powerful, easy to use and flexible." Computing with the Amstrad PCW magazine, February 1988
"At a fraction of the cost of big DTP packages, Ross Blackman considers is fantastic value for money." Personal Computer World magazine, March 1988
"I have used all the DTP packages for the PCW ... but have always been left feeling that they were not so good as I might have wished, nor so comprehensive. Stop Press fulfils all my wishes and more. Your Amstrad PCW magazine, April 1988
"I can strongly recommend Stop Press" Personal Computer World magazine
"the best graphics available in a DTP package" 8000 Plus magazine
"I have been totally satisfied with its versatility and performance" G. Saunders, Stafford (user)
"May I add a genuine unsolicited commendation on Stop Press, an excellent package with a splendid selection of utilities" B. Orr, Leigh-on-Sea (user)
"The display is very pretty to look at, making good use of the Amiga's graphics capabilities" - Your Amiga, June 1988
"The screen displays of the Datel software are beautifully designed" - Amiga Computing, February 1989
Blending never seen before functionality with an intuitive interface and ground breaking real-time technology, Pagemaker achieved with an 8bit microcomputer something that many thought impossible.
product to allow text to wrap around irregular shaped images.
A separate module, the font designer allowed the user to create or edit complete typefaces (at 16 x 16 pixel resolution!) and then immediately use them within Pagemaker. Unique at the time.
This intuitive module converted a variety of BBC Microcomputer images into the format accepted by Pagemaker.
With an innovative graphical interface, the printer selector provides actual illustrations of every printer that Pagemaker can drive – including one of the world's first personal laser printers from Canon.
Yet another innovation, the page previewer provided reduced sized versions of the pages, and could be programmed to print different quantities of each individual page. Something that no page makeup or word processing application available today (AD 2000) is capable of.
"A straw pole of computer journalists saw the AMX Pagemaker voted the undisputed hit of the November Electron & BBC Micro User Show"
The Micro User Magazine, January 1986 "Pagemaker is phenomenal ... this product is worth every penny"
Educational Computing Magazine, January 1986 "As a journlist, I was very impressed with Pagemaker, and as an AMX Mouse user I was absolutely enthralled."
Pete Lee - Journalist. "... I like this package. In fact this is one of the most professional packages I have seen for the BBC Micro" "All I can say is go out and buy it..." "This is an excellent package and well worth the money."
A&B Computing Magazine, April 1986 "So, the big decision: Fleet Street Editor or Pagemaker? My choice would be Pagemaker ..."
Acorn User Magazine, June 1986 "... an exciting package like Pagemaker, can be used with great results by mentally and physically handicapped adults"
Learning to Cope Magazine, 1986/87 "Pagemaker is brilliant."
R.K.N., Warrnambool, Australia "Hi! I suppose you've had many such messages, but I would just like to say that Pagemaker is a masterpiece! I use it for business purposes in the office and to produce weekly newsletters for my son's football team and for the school at which my wife teaches. I never fail to sing PM's praises to any one who cares to listen. I look forward to additions to the PM range with great interest and impatience. Cheers, Clive"
(The Griffin Family), Wed Oct 22, 1986 via MICRONET e-mail.
Electronic Design and Typesetting Software
Acorn BBC Microcomputer with 32K RAM
Amstrad CPC 128
October 1985, England
CONCEPT & DESIGN
Neil Lee, Alex Blok
MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION
Advanced Memory Systems Ltd, Warrington, England (Subsequently acquired by Logitech.)
Amstrad PCW Stop Press
Commodore 64 Stop Press
Amstrad CPC Pagemaker
As of October 2020 - Until retirement, co-running YAIR ENERGY LIMITED, engaged in multidisciplinary design and engineering along with PiCosm, a unique service focused on compelling applications of user managed strucured data.
KEY ATTRIBUTES + SKILLS
Spatial Imagination + Clarity of Vision
Product + UX + Graphic Design
Copy Writing + Slogans
Talent Spotting Engineers
Consumer/SME Business Analysis
Database Scripting (Including prototyping functioning apps in Filemaker)
Various project management tasks covered elsewhere in this bio
As captain of paintball team in Sacramento Valley, California, lead team to two capture the flag victories in 95 degree central valley heat!
Treasurer + Chairman of Newbury Computer Club
School house captain (Alex's house won in sports that year)
Cox of a rowing four
Alex takes an interest in the following organisations for the reasons given:
Amazon.com - Superb use of hypertext concepts since the day their book store went live all the way through to today. Kindle + Whispersync are a mix of hassle free technology and a predictable consumer friendly business model.
Apple - Highly effective marketing and copy writing. Attention to detail, such as the sound and visual effects that accompany deleting a file or other action in MacOS and Apple's more recent mobile OSes.
Dyson - Robust design and engineering. Not listed on the stock market, so able to focus on products and staff wellbeing - IE, stakeholders, not shareholders.
Greenpeace - Highly effective and apolitical, therefore the only such charity Alex donates to.
John Lewis - Consumer and staff friendly business thanks to good training and profit sharing, and like Dyson, do not have to cater to shareholders.
Quora - Fascinating, thought provoking & educational.
Tesla/Space-X/Solar City - Prime example of how engineering lead management leads to ground breaking technology that works reliably after robust iterative development, including exploding rockets.
INTERESTS + HOBBIES
A clean sustainable economy
Aircraft + Aerospace
Blogging, with a focus on fighting dystopia + unnatural toxic social engineering
Building + Flying* radio controlled electric aircraft
Garden Cities + National Infrastructure
Video gaming, with a bias towards PUBG Mobile + Battlefield + Battlezone + Rocket League
Intelligent + Slapstick movies/TV
Inline + Ice hockey
Music theory + Practice (Keyboards)
Photography (Videography only now)
The effects of technology on society
Writing short stories
"Alex has a superb insight into product conception & execution"
- Lowell Fowler (CEO High End Systems, Austin, Texas)
"A unique (spacial) imagination"
- Mr Tabor (Social studies, General Studies, English lecturer and early mentor)
May reference some products listed above.
2020 July 4 - Alex's releases to friends and family initial concept renderings for POLO MARCO, his design for a space ship to tour the solar system in around 2040. The lack of confidentiality associated with this venture means it can be used by Alex's employer to showcase their creative design skills and pragmatic (‘no Sci Fi’) approach to engineering problems.
2020 - Finally, a dream come true, Alex was able to attend CES in Las Vegas and meetup with key OEMs.
2012 - Designed, took photographs of and developed the world's first walk through ('PhotoWalker') UX for a retail store.
2007 - Produced GONUMBER.COM, a unique directory that made it easy for people to access and share information on businesses. The value proposition exceeded that of indirect competitors, such as Yell, who subsequently suffered massive losses, despite receiving billions in funding from 3i. Alex worked with Alan Whiting to design a clever logo that was featured in advertising (above). Ten years on, GONUMBER was rebranded PiCosm to better reflect its long term ambitions. PiCosm is Alex's slow burn venture to simplify all manner of every day tasks whilst handing user data management and ownership over to you!
2002 onwards - Despite the odds and obstacles, saved the life of and organised the rehabilitation of a close relative, including managing diet and putting together a reliable home control / iOT (Internet Of Things) system to enable a safe, dignified and independent lifestyle. This included customising Android tablets and mobile phones.
2000 - Alex conceived of and produced early designs for the world's first circular mobile communications device (side elevation shown above), drawing considerable demand from friends and colleagues who saw the realistic renderings created by Alex's colleague Alan Whiting. Over 16 years later, the circular display technology is maturing (thanks to smart watches), and after several iterations of the mechanical design, Alex hopes to develop the device (codenamed 'TUiT') in the 2021 timeframe in conjunction with a manufacturing partner. Motorola have expressed written interest in TUiT. Space this watch!
2000 - Designed invite for party on roof of his flat in San Francisco (above).
2000 - Contracted by Sun Microsystems to produce artist's impressions of how Java may be used out in a real world future.
1998 - Produced FONE427, a system for delivering voicemail messages to users of the ICQ instant messaging service. Designed the web UX (above). Project abandoned after potential partner closed down.
1997 - Artwalker wins Sony and Yahoo site of the year awards.
1996 - Logitech gave Alex one of the world's first digital cameras to use for an experimental project to create a 'photowalk' through Palo Alto, California via a series of hyperlinked street scenes. (Way before Google's Street View.) This inspired the creation of The Artwalker Project - Art To Explore(tm), where fine art fans navigate through scenic locations via a series of interconnected paintings or drawings that they can admire and purchase. Back then, Artwalker was hand built, with no CMS (Content Management System), so today, Alex is managing the development of a custom smart CMS to speed up the generation of 'artwalks' and will relaunch Artwalker in due course or sell it to an online gallery.
1995 - Alex and his colleague Brian Christman (who went on to design the UX for TiVO) used Alex's design concepts to win the contract to create the logo and visual identity for Macworld Online. Alex designed the above ONLINE logo that you may have seen on t-shirts and baseball caps.
1992 - Conceived PiN, The People's Interactive Network. Supported by Apple. More details to follow. A fascinating project that was killed off by the introduction of a minor global venture known as the world-wide web.
1992 - Alex was contracted by Books That Work to design the UX for a ground breaking series of CD-ROM based multimedia DIY guides.
1991 - Initially for a 5 week break, Alex flew to the USA to see some family friends and explore Silicon Valley. Loved it all so much, remained there for just under 10 years. Note, this was not a business trip, but a vision quest. Leaving the fish bowl.
1991 - Introduced to the world, the UDiS Media proposal. (More on this to follow.)
1990 - Classic BiT BOPPER featured live on BBC's Tomorrow's World, drawing an audience of 17 million viewers. (Verified.)
1987 - Originally conceived for the Commodore Amiga, designed and began development of intuitive Jenesis real time 4D 'Imagination Processor' on the Acorn Archimedes. Acorn kindly supplied Alex with the hardware following the success of AMX Pagemaker on the Acorn BBC Micro. Jenesis was designed to make the creation of 3D objects and worlds using the same usability concepts as tangible workshop tools, such as a lathe and milling machine. Alas, the project proved too difficult to engineer and was abandoned. The real time graphics routines were used instead in Alex's only white elephant, the Classic BiT BOPPER. Jenesis was re-started and supported by NeXT, but that platform was abandoned so Jenesis died again. Much sadness. Alex may re-awaken Jenesis now that virtual and augmented reality is a thing, although there exists much competition today from Microsoft Hololens, Google Daydream and Autodesk 360.
1987 - Surprised that the Amiga was not being given an opportunity to show its full potential, Alex approached Commodore with an offer to develop software for dealers to demonstrate the machine’s remarkable audio visual and multitasking capabilities. Commodore accepted and Alex expanded his software development team to produce AmigaMagic, a remarkable mashup of ahead of their time UX concepts and true multi-tasking technology.
1987 - Designed and project managed development of PCW Stop Press, the world’s first ‘designer’ desktop publishing application featuring a unique single control panel UX that allowed specific features to be activated with an icon grid reference, such as H5 for the line tool. Won multiple awards and lead to the collapse of all competitors. Alex considers PCW Stop Press as the best product he has ever designed.
1986 - Using a mix of BBC Basic and 6502 Arm machine code on his Acorn BBC Micro, Alex wrote prototype software for audio reactive visualiser. (Footage is on 8mm video cassette in a wooden box.)
1985 - Developed D.O.R.I.S. Morse Code Word Processor for polio victim. Organised donations of equipment from various suppliers. Praised by both the recipient and the charity that organised the venture. Featured in the press during the public unveiling of the system by Countess Mountbatten of Burma.
1984 - Invented, designed and produced Europe's if not the world's first Desktop Publishing application, AMX Pagemaker. Engineered by Alex's good friend, Neil Lee, AMX Pagemaker went on to win multiple awards and ignited the consumer and SME electronic publishing revolution. Alex sketched out the designs for AMX Pagemaker within a few hours on a notepad. It took a year to develop. The screen print above is of the font designer - the only component of the app that Alex also had a hand in coding - a horrible experience and what made him abandon software development and focus on UX design!
1984 - Alex's first commercial product Artsystematic was published - A basic CAD application for the BBC Microcomputer featuring a unique 'perspective aid' to help with drawing 3D shapes. Used by British Airways to create some presentation content.
1984 - Reluctantly quit Quantel/Micro Consultants, Newbury, England, where over 5 years Alex progressed from trainee technician through to an electronics test engineer. Whilst testing PCBs for it, he became fascinated by the world famous Quantel Paintbox, triggering an interest in computer graphics and UX design.
1984 - At 3am during a major thunderstorm, Alex's parent's home was hit by lightning that destroyed all of his gadgets, including the Sinclair Spectrum. With the insurance payout, Alex purchased a BBC Microcomputer, allowing much more sophisticated software to be developed.
1984 - Whilst on holiday in France, Alex wrote a submarine hunter video game on IBM PC to help teach a friend (above) to program. Hard copy of software is to right of the PC above the printer.
1982 - Alex wins International competition to design a computer of the future. The prize of a Sinclair ZX Spectrum was awarded by Sir Clive Sinclair himself, who went on to hire Alex to put together some conceptual industrial and functional design ideas for what became the One Per Desk.
1981 - As a college project, Alex wrote a tank battle game on the Sinclair ZX-81 (above in his Lego organiser) and received 100% for the work.
1977/8 - Won school photographic competition two years in a row.
During his childhood, Alex spent most of the time outdoors building things, such as go carts (with winter ski attachment!) and even a three story tree house in the depths of the great Penwood where many adventure was had with he and his friends.
"A straw pole of computer journalists saw the AMX Pagemaker voted the undisputed hit of the November Electron & BBC Micro User Show" The Micro User Magazine, January 1986
"Pagemaker is phenomenal ... this product is worth every penny" Educational Computing Magazine, January 1986
"As a journlist, I was very impressed with Pagemaker, and as an AMX Mouse user I was absolutely enthralled." Pete Lee - Journalist.
"... I like this package. In fact this is one of the most professional packages I have seen for the BBC Micro" "All I can say is go out and buy it..." "This is an excellent package and well worth the money." A&B Computing Magazine, April 1986
"So, the big decision: Fleet Street Editor or Pagemaker? My choice would be Pagemaker ..." Acorn User Magazine, June 1986
"... an exciting package like Pagemaker, can be used with great results by mentally and physically handicapped adults" Learning to Cope Magazine, 1986/87
"Pagemaker is brilliant." R.K.N., Warrnambool, Australia
"Hi! I suppose you've had many such messages, but I would just like to say that Pagemaker is a masterpiece! I use it for business purposes in the office and to produce weekly newsletters for my son's football team and for the school at which my wife teaches. I never fail to sing PM's praises to any one who cares to listen. I look forward to additions to the PM range with great interest and impatience. Cheers, Clive" (The Griffin Family), Wed Oct 22, 1986 via MICRONET e-mail.