Making it Abroad

Most of Digithurst’s products, if specifications were massaged a little, slid off the industrial list of prohibited technologies. The exception was a device which, however you described it, was still IL1527. Our software key could, in theory, be used to encrypt communications; just about – sufficient, perhaps, for GeoCachers hiding the location of message logs from Muggles. Even so, alarm bells rang when we bulk-shipped Targa versions of the hairstyling software to Germany, each with a key. There was also a key included with the MicroEye IIR returned to the laboratory in the Soviet Union. It was GCHQ who contacted us, asking that we send a sample to Cheltenham, along with the source code of all the software that used it. As releasing source code to anyone outside your company is a bad idea, we refused. Suddenly, we stopped receiving export licences.

We lobbied our local MP, who contacted the Minister of Trade, after which the outstanding export licences were issued. During that visit to our office a year earlier, Mr Margolis of Customs Control suggested that, ‘You Krauts should piss off and make this stuff in Germany?’ So now we decided to do just that.

Dorothee Harasnigg, who managed our exhibition stand at CeBIT, put me in touch with Peter Buch. At that time, Peter was operating from a workshop not much bigger than our old office at the rear of my garage. However, he was about to expand into a three-storey building in Springe, a small town south of Hannover; so, as well as our software keys, he could manufacture all the products we previously exported from the UK.

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‘Sixteen million colours. L’Oréal think it’s fantastic!’ Peter Kreischer had happened upon a copy of our new brochure.

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We had never patented our technology. Cost, and the speed at which the computer imaging market was moving, mitigated against protecting our intellectual property. IDR, however, felt that the CMD’s ability to display digital video in a window was unique. Unfortunately, only Ray understood the true nature of this uniqueness and, while he was a person of few words, patents tended to be verbose …

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

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