CeBit 92

It was Bernt who introduced us to CeBIT, in 1986, while helping him launch Epoc’s Fibre Rising System. This was the first year the IT exhibition and conference was held separately from the Hannover Industrial Fair. Ever resourceful, Bernt managed to get me a room in the Hilton at Hannover airport without a prior booking. Digithurst decided to take a stand at CeBIT the following year.

We underestimated the work involved in exhibiting abroad and came close to abandoning the idea. The mechanics were no problem, as my father and I would set up what was a very basic stand. However, it appeared Bernt had got lucky with the Hilton and we should have booked accommodation at least a year in advance. The only room we could find at short notice was a student flat in Braunschweig. The occupant was prepared to spend two weeks sleeping in their bath in exchange for a large amount of cash. My father seemed okay with this, although I wasn’t so keen. We also needed two German speakers. As he was technophobic, and had a circa 1945 Berlin accent, my father would be of little help: imagine Stanley Holloway giving a PowerPoint presentation. Joining the DTI’s UK delegation didn’t appeal, in part because it would leave SMV with a negative impression of Digithurst.

Hannover Messe Ag’s office in the UK suggested we speak to Dorothee Harasnigg. The Harasniggs had lived in a small village called Bennigsen ever since the Germans first stood large stones on end. During my next visit to Germany, I travelled to Hannover to meet Dorothee. Her breathless enthusiasm left me feeling I was dealing with the female version of Peter Kreischer. She promised to find accommodation for my father and myself, act as translator and arrange a coffee machine and biscuits for the stand. Some of the things that we hadn’t got around to organising, such as transport to and from the show and stand security, happened by magic thanks to Dorothee.

CeBIT usually opened shortly after the Which Computer Show in Birmingham closed. A 40-ton truck is the largest vehicle you could drive without a HGV licence. So, a chance to indulge my fantasy of being a long-distance lorry driver and transport our stand and equipment to and from the Birmingham NEC. I was not brave enough, though, to do the same for the Hannover trip, so we would recruit a driver. It was while driving south on the M1 that the snow turned from intermittent flurries into a pebble-dashed windscreen storm. It took two hours to complete the last thirty miles back to Cambridgeshire, where we left the truck parked outside my house.

The truck set off for Hannover four hours late; it took that long for the crane to lift it out of the ditch ...

... (An extract from The Ghost in the Labyrinth by Peter Kruger)

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