Video in Windows

IDR demonstrated the CMD card to the Reuters board of directors. Robert Maxwell hammered on the boardroom table, demanding to know the name of the company that developed it. Thankfully, David Russell refused to say.

A month later, I arrived at IDR’s office on Long Island; apart from the brief burst of Fawlty Towers, I had yet to see the CMD in action. As David Russell watched the video streaming into the window, he saw oil rigs blazing, riots in the streets and anything else that might prompt a trader to press the ‘buy or sell’ button. I saw wire frame models of objects, features extracted from faces and any other visual widget that would act as a prompt for a piece of AI software. Only one person in the room had the foresight to see kittens and dogs on skateboards. ‘Great for watching porn in the office,’ he said. We certainly missed that one, but it would be another decade at least before the World Wide Web and YouTube found their way into people’s homes and offices. However, a decade is a long time in IT and I was focused on the next ten months.

For now, the industry was still struggling with a concept Microsoft was calling ‘Multimedia’. The Redmond-based company believed the marriage of the computer and television was imminent, and it was going to make sure that both used the Windows operating system. Microsoft put their money where their dreams were and, in doing so, distorted the market for the CMD and all other video input devices.

The CMD would become our MicroEye IIC – the ‘C’ for colour, obviously. IDR would supply the card, with the Digithurst logo on it, for a deeply discounted price. We weren’t expected to sell the CMD in quantity and IDR believed most of the cards would be used in trading terminals. We had other ideas and I spent the flight back to London working out how to pitch our new MicroEye to SMV.

Had my father returned to Germany after the Second World War, or if he had realised that Gerde, the girl he intended to marry, wasn’t missing somewhere in East Germany but living in the West, my life would have turned out differently. After college, I spent the summer of 1976 in Köln with Gerde. Her daughter worked as a PA to a director of Lufthansa. Obviously, it was just a coincidence, but I was usually at the top of the list when the flight upgrades were handed out. The person in the seat next to me on the flight from JFK to Frankfurt had arrived in New York on same day as me. A TV reporter covering Gorbachev’s visit to America; cut short by the earthquake in Armenia. ‘Who do you work for?’ He asked. Folding back the technology page of the Financial Times, I pointed to the article on Digithurst’s move into multimedia. I had left school in 1969, a month before my 16th birthday, expecting to spend the next fifty years working in a factory. Out of the window, a last glimpse of Long Island and slight apprehension as the 747 headed out across the Atlantic. It wasn’t a fear of heights, just a mild case of corporate vertigo …

- 00110001 -

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

Next chapter ...