A Brief History of GDPUK
DentistGoneBadd looks back
It’s difficult to comprehend how hard for general dental practitioners it was in the bad old nineties before GDPUK came along. I remember as a young graduate, waiting anxiously for the new copy of the British Dental Journal to come, and excitedly tearing open the cellophane wrapper, to have my hopes of discovering some new innovation outlined therein, crushed by some random and dull article from a rabble of community dental officers in Cardiff about the ‘Efficacy Of Acidulated Fluoride Application In 8 – 10 Year-olds Living In Splott.” How I longed for stimulating live debate and the occasional intellectual tussle with a fellow practitioner on such topics as ‘Orange or green alginate? Which one is less likely to make the child lose his breakfast?’ or ‘Those odd tooth-coloured fillings – will they ever catch on?’ But thankfully, in 1954, a boy was born. And that boy developed into a man with foresight and vision. Sadly, the boy wasted his talents by going into dentistry instead of inventing Bitcoin, but he did realise his dream to reach out to his fellow dentists, by starting the UK’s most popular website specifically aimed at general dental practitioners, GDPUK.com. That boy was Tony Jacobs, and this month, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the birth of GDPUK.com – a website of which many fellow dental professionals say: “Yeah, it’s ok, but it never has any grumpy cat videos on it.” Tony’s early struggle to communicate with his fellow professionals on a nationwide basis was thwarted mainly because he only had an old Biro and a Gestetner duplicating machine, but that all changed with the invention of semaphore and carrier pigeons – the use of which created their own problems – namely how to autoclave the handles properly without wrinkling the flags, and effectively disinfecting the carrier pigeons without marinating them. But Tony’s rise to success is legendary, and here we present a timelined Brief History of GDPUK.com.
A young Tony – then a very trendy hipster, sent a letter to the British Dental Journal. We don’t have a copy of the original letter but it probably went something like “Man U supporting dentist seeks similar with GSOH. Why does everybody hate us?” This letter produced three dentists interested in forming a group. At that time, all online activity was only accessible through dial-up – there was no broadband, mobile or website activity. It was all done through email or Morse Code.
Late Nineties
The membership slowly grew to 20 then 100 and emails were forwarded manually. The group then moved to a website that had a mailing list function, which was then bought up by Yahoo. From 1999 to 2008, the primordial GDPUK group was a Yahoo group – in my opinion, this probably signaled the demise of Yahoo. In those early days, keeping the group together was arduous, shackled by slow internet speeds and Tony’s insistence on using his old, treasured ZX Spectrum.
2005 – 2006
During this period, membership rose from 500 to 2000, reflecting general outrage and debate about the new dental contract, fuelled by Eddie Crouch.
Tony decided to move away from Yahoo and bought gdpuk.com and other domains. Such was Tony’s vision for a fully interactive and engaging website, two professional companies were unable to complete the website. It was then that he met the mysterious Steve Van-Russelt.
Nobody actually knows what Steve Van-Russelt looks like and Google searches bring zero returns. The above is an artist’s impression of him in the nineties.
Even now, Steve insists on Tony (and indeed everyone he comes into contact with) calling him The Webmaster. But give him his due – St…sorry, The Webmaster got the site up and running and has maintained it to this day since 2008.
2008 – onwards
As the site grew and the quantity of news items, blogs and forum contributions increased, Tony appointed a team of moderators to maintain order. The moderators, like Ste….sorry, The Webmaster, like to stay in the background.
Membership slowly grew from 5,000 to 10,000 and currently stands at 11,000 and that’s a FACT.
Along the way, GDPUK has raised its profile, having occasionally been dragged into controversial rows with outside parties or has been mentioned during GDC cases, as well as establishing a high profile on Twitter or Facebook. The website is even mentioned in the GDC Standards guide – presumably “If you stoop to this standard, you’re in real trouble Sparky.” Tony is still driven to raise the profile of GDPUK even further and is proud of the move to the new headquarters. Tomorrow, the world.
20th Anniversary Magazine