Tallinn expat internet pioneer passes away

Cliff Stanford, 1954-2022.
Cliff Stanford, 1954-2022. Source: Private collection.

British internet pioneer and Tallinn resident Cliff Stanford has died. He was 67.

Born in 1954 and brought up in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, Stanford exhibited an entrepreneurial bent from an early age, and was just the right age to grab the home computer boom of the 1980s with both hands.

In the 1990s, he embarked on a single-minded quest to design and build a service that could be accessible and affordable for all. The outcome was Demon Internet, which went on to become the largest ISP in the U.K., due in no small part to its low subscription cost – ten pounds per month.

Demon went on to be purchased by Scottish Telecom, a subsidiary of the private utility company Scottish Power.

Of his new-found and resulting wealth , Cliff said: "There's no such thing as enough money…I like having money in my pocket but there's no fun winning it on the football pools, the thrill for me is by making things work and making big business deals."

In 2005, Stanford was convicted under for intercepting emails belonging to John Porter, son of controversial British politician Dame Shirley Porter and then chairman of Redbus Investments, which Stanford had founded.

While handed a given a fine and a suspended sentence, he maintained that what he had done had been thoroughly legal. 

After retiring to Spain for a spell, in 2017 Stanford and his long-term partner moved to the tech hub that is Tallinn and Estonia, where he continued developing software solutions and pursued interests in the burgeoning blockchain and cryptocurrency sector, also enrolling at Tallinn University to study Estonian.

Cliff passed away on February 24, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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