1978 – we had moved to Carlton in Bedfordshire while I was working with Texas Instruments.
In 1979 – I got headhunted to join the Dixons distribution arm, ACE, as Sales Director. We sold the early computer games to other multiple retailers like Boots, Currys, Debenhams, Greens, Menzies, Rumbelows, W H Smith and Woolworths.
My boss was David Rurka who later went on to launch Toys R’Us in the UK. At ACE we had cornered supplies of the Signetics chip set and also launched the Mattel Intellivision, the first 16-bit game.
At ACE we had one multiple retailer buyer we visited regularly and when you went in to his office the floor and desk were covered with misshapen paper clips. During a meeting he would destroy several more. We wondered if he judged the stress levels of a meeting that way – ‘Oh, that was awful, it was a ten paper clip meeting!’ No names, saw him interviewed on TV recently.
While at Prism we were of course selling to multiple and independent retailers. We even opened a short-lived shop-within-a-shop of our own called ‘Street Wise’ on Tottenham Court Road, established to sell these robot kits and other products.
We had moved into Bedford in 1982 – while the Prism operation was in full flow.
In 1985 my business partner and I had split up, and the company had crashed, followed very promptly by Sinclair Research itself. I was once again on the consultant trail and in 1985 I took a nine-month contract to assist Granada TV Rentals as it tried to move from its rental base and espouse retailing.
I was charged with introducing retail into its fifty Scottish shops as a test. Equipped with my own Apple II I introduced planagramming so that we defined from HQ how each and every shop (they had over 600!) should display its stock and which particular items where.
I used my own Apple while at Granada and though this was as late as 1985 it is sobering to recall that many of the other male managers there would ask me when I was going to start wearing a skirt, because they believed only female secretaries and typists sat at keyboards – no PCs and non-PC! They were converted by the productivity pretty shortly after that.
But then I moved to be General Manager of the Business Services Division in Aylesbury which got me in to satellite receivers.