One Pre Desk

Steve Jobs vs corporate bureaucracy

In 1985, Britain’s ICL was the largest computer maker in Europe.  ICL invented an incredible piece of kit called the One Per Desk (OPD).   The OPD was a revolutionary product in 1985 that was marketed as an intelligent telephone.  It came with either a 9-inch monochrome monitor or a 14-inch colour monitor.  Communications featured large and it came with a modem to connect with mainframes.  The OPD was also a tiny computer.  It shipped with (I recall) a 100 entry address book and a suite of applications that contained a word processor, database, spreadsheet and business graphics.

It was a brilliant concept but sadly ICL combined just about everything that was wrong in technology.  It had a non-standard processor, but the worst was the use of Sinclair Micro drives (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZX_Microdrive) in lieu of disk drives.  Microdrive cartridges were postage stamp sized tape cassettes and were unreliable.

The OPD was well received and several companies launched software to run on it.   But ICL never corrected the flaws and despite much marketing hype, lost interest in the product and it was consigned to history.

Twenty years later, Apple launched a revolutionary product.  The iPhone was a smart telephone that featured a graphical display, internet communications and a computer operating system that allowed the iPhone to run applications.

The ICL OPD was functionally the same as the iPhone.  Steve Jobs saw the potential.  ICL management was locked into corporate politics and the status quo.  Like the OPD, ICL is now history.

John McMillan

John writes and talks on technology and advises companies on developing and marketing software products. He has published e-books on writing and marketing software and apps. He has 30 years’ experience in the IT industry and has enabled several bodies to sell their knowledge through computer applications.

John’s e-book

“How to Write Software for Sale” describes how to write and sell an app or other software.  It is available from AmazonSee details.

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