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May 21, 2012


In my second Silicon Valley job 30 years ago, I launched the engineering department of a start-up PC company years before IBM rolled out the PC or Apple the Macintosh. ACS was run by the most plausible Southern good-ole-boy salesman you could ever want to meet. Bob could talk the hind legs off a donkey. He so inspired me, it took a year for me to realise that hardware, operating system and applications could all be invented by a staff of six—but they couldn’t also be developed into reliably bombproof products.

As red figures ate through the $1m in venture capital Bob had bamboozled out of Xerox, Bob and I had a heart-to-heart. “We have a problem, Bob” I confessed. “Our actual income can’t justify keeping this scale of development.” Bob disagreed and shared a little of his genius with me. “You’re off by a country mile, Dave,” he beamed…

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