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June 16, 2012

192.com turns 15

Since 1997 we've:

  • Given the UK free directory enquiries
  • Reunited hundreds of thousands of families and friends
  • Helped charities find missing persons and donors
  • Become the UK's most awarded online directory
  • Teamed up with the best of British, including the 1966 world cup winner George Cohen MBE and the South Atlantic Medal Association, patroned by HRH the Prince of Wales

This month 192.com celebrates 15 years of providing free directory enquiries and reuniting family and friends.

Launching in June 1997, 192.com 'changed the web forever,'[1] putting millions of UK public records into public hands.

192.com now supplies 700 million public records. These derive from the Edited Electoral Roll, the Land Registry, Directors Records, Births Marriages and Deaths Indexes, and 4.5 million UK business records, putting unparalleled information onto one website. The site also supplies interactive maps, aerial photography and property reports.

192.com survived the 90's dotcom bubble to become the UK's most awarded online directory, winning consecutive 118 awards between 2004 and 2011. The site now attracts 10 million unique users a month; web-traffic unmatched by any other people and business directory.[2]

"I realised the limitations of the phonebook, and wanted to create a website for finding a name and address or for checking out a business," said Alastair Crawford, founder of 192.com.

The site was the first official licensee of BT's directory data, pre-empting the total deregulation of the directory industry in 2003. The company was also the first to make the Edited Electoral Roll available on the internet and on a CD ROM, combining 44 million records from the roll with the phonebook.

"I started the company from a spare room in my sister's house with zero investment but since so much public data was being monopolised by large organisations, I knew it should be spread more equitably", adds Mr Crawford.

192.com Limited started as i-CD publishing, creating UK Info-Disk in 1997, a CD ROM of which 2 million copies were produced. The first version cost less than £20.00 per copy compared to other national databases costing £100k.

Today 192.com remains the nation's favourite cost-cutter, saving consumers £175 million a year in free directory enquiry searches,[3] offsetting the five-fold cost-hike of calling directory enquiries since the introduction of 118 numbers.[4]

192.com now employs over 40 staff and is primarily used to reunite family and friends. In 2010, World Cup winner George Cohen MBE led the site's call to reunite fans from the 1966 World Cup, while in 2012, 192.com is helping the South Atlantic Medal Association to reunite veterans from the Falklands conflict.

192.com has also helped the charity, Anthony Nolan to trace and match stem cell donors, and the UK's leading adoption services charity AAA Norcap to reunite families:

"Through using powerful databases like 192.com we are able to reconnect relatives," explains Jean Milsted, CEO of Norcap. She adds: "Our specialist researchers find over 90% of the people they look for and provide support for over 300 families each year, securing a successful reunion in most cases. Without services like 192.com many such reunions would not be possible."

The site is also used to safeguard consumers against fraudulent transactions and is being used by the Channel 5's Cowboy Traders programme to ID check dishonest tradesmen.

In 2002, 192business was launched, helping organisations verify the identity of online customers to minimise fraud and risk. In March 2012, 192business was acquired by the information services company Experian, adding proven technology to the Experian portfolio.

"My aim is to grow the site and continue to provide a great service to our customers. Watch this space for some great new product developments," says Alastair Crawford.

  1. [1] According .net magazine in 2001
  2. [2] According to the web monitors, Alexa in 2012.

  3. [3] This figure is derived from the proportion of the site's half a million searches a day who access the 192.com's directory enquiries.
  4. [4] Source is research from 192.com and The Sun on Sunday, March 11, 2012.

About 192.com

192.com is the UK's most awarded online directory, helping find people, businesses and places for 10 million users a month. On 192.com, users can search over 700 million records including free directory enquiries, edited electoral roll information, local business listings, interactive mapping, aerial photography and property reports.

For more information contact the 192.com Press Office.