Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar were born on opposite sides of the track.
Sinclair was a posh lad from Surrey – the son of an engineer.
While Sugar – a Jewish East End “wide boy” – was the son of a tailor.
Clive was a swot, who started selling little radio kits while still at school.
Sugar began by selling electrical goods out of the back of a £100 van.
But these very different men’s careers would eventually reach a point where similarities would occur – thanks to their realisation that the way forward was PERSONAL COMPUTERS.
However, there were a number of stages to go through before – and after – this epiphany.
Clive launched his infamous C5 – a recumbent tricycle, driven by a washing machine engine powered by a car battery.
It had two problems. One – its small size meant that on the road, trucks would run over it without even noticing. And two – battery technology in those days severely limited its range. It became a national joke – and a financial disaster.
Of course today, the Segway and Tesla Roadster have enjoyed major success – but Sinclair was not involved in either.
However, his ZX range of personal computers made him a fortune and financed his hobby – poker – a pastime in which he usually loses.
Meanwhile, Alan acquired an old warehouse in Hackney and entered the hi-fi market. Amstrad (an acronym of his name and “radio”) joined the field and quickly prospered.
And when he began making computers, his future was assured. He even took over Sinclair’s PC line.
This financed HIS hobby – football. He bought Tottenham Hotspur. However, this move proved as unsuccessful as Clive’s poker career. He eventually got out – and proclaimed the exercise, “a waste of my life.”
More successful was his attempt to emulate his U.S. counterpart – Donald Trump*. He starred – and continues to star – in the British version of “The Apprentice”.
Then came The Rewards. Clive got a knighthood. But Alan – who had made far more MONEY – became a Baron.
Which is where I come in – or rather, came in (and the title of this piece finally becomes relevant). I once MET and TALKED to Lord (then plain Mister) Sugar.
You see, back around 1972 I lived NEXT DOOR to that warehouse he had just taken over – and I wandered in, to see if he had any positions going (the old “handy-man” joke – I only live next door).
He didn’t – which is a shame – because in those days, I generally got fired after two or three months in a job. And it would be nice, today, to say – I’ve been fired by Alan Sugar.
* Talking of Trump – did you see SNL’s Seth Meyers RIP The Donald, at the White House Correspondents Dinner? I don’t think Trump has been that angry since his hairdresser committed suicide. If Seth turns up in the Potomac wearing concrete wellies – I for one will not be surprised! If you didn’t see it, hit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YGITlxfT6s – the best bit is twelve minutes in – watch it on 1080p, fullscreen. The post has garnered over a million hits in 48 hours. People are viewing just to see the STEAM coming out of Trumps EARS! Seth had better hope he DOESN’T become POTUS…