A Snelson DataBase & Armory

Hardware and Software

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I have been working on this project for many years so the data have been collected, classified, compiled and categorised through the changing technology landscapes since 1970. Starting with a pencil and a little black book, lever arch files and shoe boxes, and then hey-ho – computers!


I bought a Sinclair ZX81 for £49.95 from WH Smith in 1981. A computer without a screen so use the TV, BASIC OS, 1KB (64 KB max. 56 KB usable). I got the idea then about using computers for this hobby, mixing family history, solving problems, designing solutions and playing with geek-boy toys.

In 1989, I bought an Amstrad 286. This was soon followed by the 386 and then the 486 in 1993. I later acquired many other PCs, Windows desktops and laptops and eventually, sadly an iMAC.

Sadly ? I invested in and tried running the iMAC under Parallels – yes, it works and the iMAC is a beautiful design and box of tricks, but too hard to run as a shared machine with two Op systems, too slow and too much messing about.

So, the latest kit is this HP Spectra x360 Convertible 8Gb Win 10 touchscreen machine; it’s a nice solid state laptop, no moving parts, no disk drive, no CD, just hard wired memory circuits so super fast.


The software matched the tin - ranging from Pascal, MS-DOS and then the fantastic packages from Commsoft being Roots III, IV, V and Ultimate Family Tree. When Commsoft went under, I transferred the data to The Master Genealogist and now to Family Historian.

The Commsoft guys were onto the need to create a genuine event-based product but alas, the wrong people, well-meaning though they may have been and those at Palladium … Family Gathering, Ultimate Family Tree … staggering.

The best we have got is Family Historian, Roots Magic and Legacy. Pretty disappointing after all of the promise of ROOTS IV back in 1994 with the announcement of their EVENT GEDCOM. Holy Muriel, at last some brains had got it ! However, this was not to be, and that’s why today we can still declare that “It’s a desert out there” … well, enough said, after 20 years, the world is still waiting for event-based genealogy software and the further development of event based GEDCOM.

With the demise of TMG, in order to preserve my data and create a rescue pathway for the future, I have had to retreat to the clunky but safe arms of Family Historian which is based on the antique GEDCOM 5.5 Standard developed by The Church of Latter Day Saints in 1996. That says it all. We are going backwards. Fortunately, John Cardinal’s excellent GedSite web generation software is providing a trajectory for quality presentation as proven by this website.

This presentation has been created by John Cardinal’s excellent new software GedSite.

Palm Tree

For the interest of techos and my own ego, I cannot help mentioning my own excursion into genealogy software. I created and wrote the only program for the Palm Pilot (remember them). It was inelegantly brilliant and I called it Palm Tree ... good hey?

I wrote it using Satellite Forms parameters (and it was going gangbusters until I got graunched by Palm Inc for copyright infringement !). However, I digress.


The heraldic content is based on my own research.

The devices have been created some time ago using Blazons ! shareware written by Robert Lott Billard which I believe is no longer functional as it was built for Windows 3.1 and then Windows ’95 I think.

I really loved it but I cannot get it to run in Windows 10. Such is life in an ever-changing world.

Genealogical Content and Sources

The Snelson DataBase & Armory includes references available from current parish records and the traditional sources such as the registers of births, deaths, marriages, christenings, burials, chartularies, censuses, tithe maps, monument inscriptions, land records, guilds, the Heralds, wills and other records.

During this time, I have augmented the base data with information gleaned from many family historians and other published sources as varied as Alfred Neobard Palmer, Earwaker, Kings Vale Royal, Bertram Merrell, the Cheshire and Clwyd Family History Societies, Powys Fadog, George Ormerod, FONS, Ray Richards … and of course, my Canadian mentor, the late Charles J. Snelson.