Techscape: A Wordwise veteran

Moir of a technologist or an entrepreneur

Moir wrote Wordwise especially for the BBC Micro. Not the Sinclair, the Macintosh or the IBM PC which was then coming out strong. “The IBM PC was not very popular over here,” Moir observes, “it was too expensive, clunky and not homegrown. The IBM PC was inferior in almost every respect to our British computers.”

When asked which characterization he though applied to him most, Entrepreneur or Techie, his reply is, “I sit in both camps really. I’m the classic tech guy who started his own company.”

“I’m a geek at heart,” says Moir unabashedly almost as a challenge to duel, “and my move from geek to manager happened very organically.”

How were your entrepreneurial and managerial skills then?

Here, Moir gets brutally candid, “I wasn’t very good at dealing with non-technology employees, I certainly could’ve improved my relationships and managing of staff,” he says somewhat repentantly.

From little acorns

Does he have any other regrets? “Well, I’m not the type of guy who goes around regretting things, but I do wish we moved our Wordwise software onto the PC and Mac platforms instead of waiting. We saw Acorn was going to be in trouble but like many small companies didn’t have the money to port to Macs and I didn’t want to port to the PC platform. The IBM PC was terrible. Their Intel processors 8086 and 8088 were nasty.”

"The Acorn RISC PC however,” he continues, really picking up momentum, “was a great modern desktop that provided features which took years to finally come out in Windows.”

But much to Moir’s chagrin, the Acorn and virtually every other British-built computer started to disappear.

Here Moir has an anecdote to share. When Jack Tramiel, the bombastic founder of Commodore computer company and subsequent chief of Atari, got wind of Moir’s software antics from the other side of the Atlantic, he came-a-calling for a visit to Moir and Gaddesden Place.

Tramiel, who famously stated that “Business is War,” also subscribes to an aggressive competitive strategy and feeling very threatened by what he'd heard about the BBC Micro decided to check it out personally.

He came to Gaddesden Place with the Atari UK MD. When Moir opened up the Acorn, what the visitors saw amazed them: “Just four chips, some RAM and that’s it!” says Moir.

Tramiel bellowed, “OK, these guys can destroy us!!”

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