Legacies

IT companies tend not to do legacy. One minute they are there, the next they’re gone. Forgotten until you stumble across an odd-looking box and cable in the loft. Digithurst left a small hole in the market, which was filled in a matter of months. It was unique only insofar as, during the 1980s, the IT market in the UK was unique. A start-up today spends as much time and money producing a business plan as Digithurst spent developing its first product, ultimately for the benefit of accountants, lawyers, angel investors, venture capitalists and coffee machine salesmen. The endless networking sessions and forums complete the straitjacket, trapping the entrepreneur in a vast interconnecting meta-corporation increasingly intolerant of the eccentricity that goes hand in hand with innovation.

Embarrassed by its roots, the Cambridge IT sector has airbrushed the 80s generation of engineers out of its collective memory, forgotten as quickly as the blacksmiths who helped Birmingham’s aristocrats build the first motor cars. The depiction of Sir Clive Sinclair at the end of The Micro Men was a case in point. Without Sinclair, there would have been no Stephen Cronk or Stephen Childerly to build that first MicroEye. Without the ZX81, a generation would have left school technically illiterate. And no Chris Curry, meaning no Acorn Atom when Hermann Hauser needed a computer for his biology project. Unfortunately, the person who ruined his Porsche by washing it with bleach and dug up a Texas Instrument Company engineer’s drive to retrieve obsolete microchips for his ZX81 doesn’t fit well within the narrative of the Cambridge Phenomenon ...

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


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