| With fond memories of a great
to the guys who took the pics
This is a
draft of the tale of the Glastonbury Cybertent, to be corrected
updated with a little help from my friends. It has surely been written
others, elswhere, so contributions are welcome from those who took part
creating the Cybertent as well as those who used it. Send reminiscences
me at firstname.lastname@example.org
and I will incorporate them here.
I think it was Tim Murphy who
had the idea. A cybercafe in a tent, at Glastonbury, also hosting a web
on which we would post stills and movies directly during the festival.
in 1995 fewer people had mobile phones, and many found themselves a bit
off from the outside world. Getting in and out during the days of the
was never that easy, so a bank of PCs with email would be
could add in my email-to-fax system on at least one PC. And phones.
In the spirit of the time, we would set up the tent in the Green Field
and power it with wind and solar. All we needed was an ISDN line run to
field, a router programmed with IP numbers and set up on the end to
the web server and 8 PCs running the brand new Windows '95 program, a
of batteries to act as a buffer and reserve and a converter to churn
volts AC. The team began to form on occasional evenings at Tim's
in Oxford. Tony Jillings from Nielsen, Ivan Fabian from Rutherford
Labs, Kobus Nieumeijer. We started
advance website www.glastonbury.org and were soon joined by Glastonbury
Dominic Search (who was later to build with Kobus and install Windows
on all the PCs in a single evening) and Bill and Suzanne who were
in website and internet applications who turned up on the opening to
with running the whole enchilada.
We had the permission of Michael Eavis, the Festival Organiser, but he
not want to know what we were doing and whenever we met him he just
hated technology and especially computers, so when we visited the site
advance we kept our heads down and out of his way. The main problems
getting the guys with the solar cells and wind generators, who were to
there anyway, tied down as to just what output we could expect. Then
was the man who had to turn up with batteries on a lorry.... we needed
The router preparation was in the hands of Tony Jillings who got Cisco
produce and program the hardware and software, while Tim, who had a
the whole project, and I liaised with BT and the local tractor
who would cut the slit trench to run the line from the farm to the
This was not as easy as it sounds. We came back to find the
the wrong place and then at 4.30 on the Friday afternoon before the
weekend before blast-off, the BT engineers explained to me ruefully
could not get the line to function. They had been working on it all
and had to admit defeat. "The trouble it the line is just too long."
I was slightly non-plussed by this. The essential quality of a line is
it is long. Our ISDN line needed to reach from our field to the point
it met a more substantial connection into the Internet Backbone. This
be a local exchange, but at that time Pilton exchange was analogue, not
so it had to go further before reaching serious bandwidth on a digital,
line. I retired to my car with Tim where we had two mobile phones
on the go as we struggled with last minute arrangements. I came to the
the BT administrators who had accepted the job and contracted to supply
ISDN line at a reasonable cost must have measured the distance on a map
realising that the telephone lines to Pilton followed an amazingly
minor road, making the actual length many times the apparent distance.
had already tried the idea of boosters but that did not seem to be the
either. We asked the BT engineers what could be done. "Nothing", they
"short of upgrading Pilton exchange to digital". They did not have the
or authority to do that, but suggested that we rang Martlesham direct
our case. But at nearly 5pm on a Friday?.....
We did, eloquently, emphasising that the next week 2 broadcasting
at least would be needing to use our ISDN line in addition to the live
site which had been advertised for a month in advance. So the
of Pilton had their exchange upgraded a year or two sooner than
suddenly that weekend by a lot of guys on overtime, and by Monday
the engineers had tested our line an pronounced it good.
Construction of the tent was proceeding apace, but we had no power.
brought a generator (forbidden in the Field but we had pleaded
got permission), but he was stopped at the gate, unable to contact us.
were lent a generator already on the site to enable us to set up our
and test our Internet connection. For a brief moment, it seemed to
then it died. After examination, Tony pronounced it fried, apparently
a massive voltage overload from a faulty generator. We were dead in the
But a phone call to Cambridge revealed that Cisco had backed up all the
The damage was not visible, and they said that if it was the router
faulty they could take it back and give us another, set up identically.
jumped into my trusty Citroen and drove from Glastonbury to Cambridge
back without stopping. We were now racing against time to finish the
install the PCs, connect and test the whole system with the planned
We made it with nothing to spare, and the movie clip above shows how
the tent was. The were even university professors and parliametary
who were able to use it for vital communications during the festival.
other great event which is not featured in the pictures above was our
using the first LitePro digital projector of sound-generated graphics
the just developed [name?] program. APS from Slough, who supplied the
for use within the tent, helped us to run a cable to the roof of a
from where we projected at night huge moving images onto the Pyramid
synchronised to - in fact generated by - Trance music from various
The effect was stunning, and thousands of people gathered to watch and