23/09/2021

European differences

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In much the same way we learned much about our personal computer products by default too. We learned that if you wanted to operate internationally in all European languages then you needed to allow a further 25% for the text to be represented in German.

We also discovered the impact of different power systems – 120v/60Hz in the States, 220v/50Hz in Europe and 240v/50Hz in the UK. Some of the early software had chosen to use the power frequency as its time-base, thus had been developed to run on 60Hz. When they were run in Europe at our 50Hz you could hit every alien because they moved at 5/6ths their intended speed.

Worldwide electrical voltages/frequencies

We used hall research to gauge consumer attitudes. This proved fascinating, for example we recruited people off the street and, without explaining anything, asked them if they would buy a home computer, most said no. Then we would explain what it might be able to do, most said they would buy in to those notions. Then we gave them a range of prices to see at which points they would still be interested. The big question was, what would the killer-app prove to be, not that we had any idea of that term back then.

We also consulted with specialist experts under NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). These included people from the British Heart Foundation for fitness programs, Magnus Pyke the TV nutritionist for health programs, Linguaphone for language courses, and so on.

ASIDE: I escorted one of the Linguaphone guys down to Villeneuve Loubet and he had a horrible accident while there. Our hotel had its lobby on the first floor and an escalator took resident up to it. It was one of those escalators that, to save energy, would switch itself on when not in use. Late one evening he got on to it and it didn’t start up, so he walked up. Near to the top it decided to lurch into action and tossed him backwards down the long flight of steps. I visited him in hospital, his body looked as if he had been attacked by a shark, the edge of each step acting like teeth at each point of contact. He admitted that perhaps he had imbibed too much.

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