IBM Fade to Blue

The second large IT company to arrive at our office was Big Blue itself. Ironically, they skipped the previous opening gambit and never bothered to ask if we wanted to work with IBM. Perhaps they thought the deal was so good only a fool would turn it down. We were to design and build a card, much like the CMD, only it would be compatible with the IBM PS/2. Based on propriety technology, including a new MCA (Micro Channel Architecture) bus, it was hoped the Personal System/2 would recapture a market largely lost to PC clone manufacturers. The card, as yet unnamed, would be used to capture images for IBM’s presentation software package, Storyboard.

The contract was substantially longer than the 30-page document presented to us by Reuters. This time, we were to build 1,000 cards and hold them in stock to sell exclusively through IBM dealers. From IBM’s point of view, there was a certain logic to this. We were a small company staffed by people who seemed to have a suit phobia, and IBM didn’t want to risk promoting a product to dealers only to find we couldn’t supply it. However, given the board would cost between £300 and £500 to produce, we could find ourselves left with a lot of inventory. The PS/2 wasn’t getting glowing reviews, and would anyone really want to pay well over £1,000 to put images into a presentation package? I’m not sure we even read past the second page of the contract before turning IBM down.

The deal travelled just a few stops down the railway line towards London and, suddenly, VideoLogic were the big news in PC image capture. It felt we had let ourselves become eclipsed in a sector of the IT market we owned and was set to grow …


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


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