Ivor Catt's Web

  The Negotiation
see also:



[written by Ivor Catt in 1991 about events in the early eighties.]

This was the biggest prize of my life. It was my chance to make a major impact on the industry and also make a lot of money. The latter was unimportant, because if Spiral achieved its potential I would be wealthy anyway. One does not create a multi-billion dollar industry and remain a pauper. However, the very process of appearing indifferent to financial gain for myself could scupper the project, in the same way as being too grasping could scupper the project. I had to walk the broad path between these two dangers, this broad path probably being flanked by two hundred thousand pounds on one side and two million plus royalties on the other.

First I went for two millionm plus royalties, and Clive Sinclair argued for less. Then I used Bill Miller as adviser. By good fortune, David Simpson, the Scottish President of Gould Corporation, a four billion dollar hi-tec American company, was friendly with both Bill and Clive, both of whom were trying to get him onto the board of their companies. Bill in his turn used David Simpson as honest broker between himself and Sinclair. In a negotiation, if both parties have access to an honest broker, their difficulties are more or less over.

We reached the point where Sinclair had upped his offer to two hundred thousand pounds plus stock options, giving a deal worth half a million pounds at that time. However, Simpson told Bill, who told me, that Clive was willing to go to double, and that I should hold out for a couple of weeks.

It was at this point that the enemy within played a crucial role. [My son] Malcolm told her [my wife] that he was only pretending to support me, and by this means and by eavesdropping he discovered that Freda [my wife, whom I later divorced], whom I had totally cut off from the negotiations, was about to approach Sinclair with information that I was mentally deranged, and that he should negotiate with her. Malcolm said I would have to close the deal immediately, and forego the second half million pounds. So I closed the deal at two hundred thousand pounds cash plus stock options. In this one episode, Freda fended off half a million pounds which was about to flow into her own family. However, from her point of view, control of the family was perhaps more important than half a million pounds.

[oct98 In the event, the judge confiscated all my assets in the divorce action.]

[oct98. See a very similar situation in Lillian Hellman's play "Toys in the Attic".]

oct98. (Sinclair Research's WSI wing came to be called Anamartic.) Catt Spiral was designed to exploit the Array Processor market. Catt Spiral Memory was intended as a taster, because array processing was unintelligible to those who needed to be involved. However, memory was the cuckoo's egg, which took over and went down with the normal RAM, as I always predicted. A large proportion of the time RAM memory was (and still is) sold worldwide at well below cost. From the start, I told Sinclair that semiconductor surface could not compete with magnetic surface for storage, but in around 1984, in our first discussions, he saw a short-term (9 months) window of opportunity because Winchesters (the then name for rotating disc memory) were over-priced. He said he thought he could come to market in 9 months. The first array processor, worked on in Anamartic, was called "Property 1a", which was starved of funds. This, and also Catt Spiral, were obsoleted by my later patent Kernel, which invention I stumbled on seven months after Anamartic, who were developing Spiral, had fired me for the first time. Long after Spiral memory was obsolete and I had been fired, funding continued to be poured into Spiral Memory. This continued many years after Kernel, the invention which obsoleted all that went before, had been published in Wireless World and the Sunday Times. However, Kernel caused Anamartic to hire me back, only to fire me twice more, each time paying me massive financial amends after brief court cases, one of which was Summary Judgement (= a ten minute hearing) in the High Court.

Kernel soldiers on.


Top Of Page