This is of a series of blogs looking at some of the less well
known, but still great, citizens of this nation. For one reason or
another each person on this list is a personal hero of mine, be it
because they are great at what they do, or simply because the are
Whatever the reason I am going to take time to salute them.
In this entry we will be looking at a man who paradoxically ahead of his time and the right man for it.
Sir Clive Sinclair.
You have probably never heard of him but without this guy the home pc market might look a lot different today. In fact I would go so far as to say Microsoft and Apple would not be as big as they are today without his legacy.
Sir Clive kick started the home computer market, it was his rivalry with former friend and founder of Acorn, Chris Curry, that bought the home PC down to affordable prices. Between them showed the world that PC’s weren’t just for use in offices but were a must have item in the home as well. They also introduced the British Public to Computer Games, which was what made them really take off.
And here we stumble upon the first of Sir Clive’s quirks. The one thing that sold the computer to the home market, he hated with a passion. He felt Computer games cheapened his product and buy all accounts loathed selling them.
However the man’s true genius (or insanity) lay in the fact that his whole computer empire was just to fund his real passion, the Electric car. Sinclair was a nut for the idea, the C5 (pictured above) was his lifelong dream. He sold most of his shares in his own company to fund the research for it, he worked for close to 20 years perfecting it before he would launch it. He wanted the world to have clean safe transport more than he wanted them to have computers.
However the world was not ready for the idea, if he had waited till the late 1990’s he could of beaten the Segway as the must have personal transport. But the 1980’s was not the right time and almost overnight he went from genius to laughing stock. The C5 was ridiculed, deemed unsafe and silently whirred off into legend.
So we have a man that was knighted for his genius and then became a joke because of it. If that doesn’t sum up Britishness i don’t know what will. Well that and the fact he ended his feud with Curry in a pub, over a pint.
So Sir Clive Sinclair, you are a legend and a gentleman, I salute you!
Incidentally there is a brilliant BBC film about the battle between Curry and Sinclair called Micro Men (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_Men) if you can find it, it’s well worth a watch.