2001 - the year of the less spectacular


2001 is going to be the year of Bluetooth and Cambridge Silicon Radio, but there will not be the spectacular performances seen during 2000.

This is how Hermann Hauser, 'Father of Silicon Fen', Cambridge Evening News Businessman of the Year, entrepreneur of entrepreneurs and one of the founders of the Cambridge Network, sees the year ahead.

Speaking shortly after returning to Cambridge from his Christmas holiday in the Austrian Tyrol, Dr Hauser said: 'There won't be another boom this year, and the general concensus is gloomy, but in the US more than Europe.

'Last year was the most amazing time in terms of generating wealth in the first half, then there was lots of disappointment later in the year when share prices dipped.

'Nobody knows what will happen this year, but my feeling is there will be a gradual rise, although nothing compared with last year's spectacular increase.

'It's the euro that is going to see the big comeback and I think it will become a success this year. I have shifted a lot of investment into the euro, and just at the right time.'

Dr Hauser also talked about a good year ahead for Cambridge Display Technology, the plastic displays company; his new venture, Plastic Logic, which will make it possible to build much larger computer screens; about matchbox-size jet engines that will power laptop computers and replace batteries, and about the Bluetooth radio tags that will revolutionise daily life.

'I remember being rung up by my Italian friend who makes washing machines and him saying that Bluetooth was going to give him the edge,' he said, talking about the coming domestic revolution set to rival sliced bread.

Bluetooth chips will mean washing machines never again breaking down because the chips inside them will be able to predict faults.

Dr Hauser also sees manual vacuum cleaning becoming a drudgery of the past in less than five years, with fleets of mini robots taking over this kind of task.

But in his own home it's a different story: 'In the early 80s, when I became the 12th richest man in Britain, during the Acorn days, I went home and said to my wife 'someone else ought to be doing the washing up now', and she said 'yes, you'.'

Acorn bombed, and only now has Dr Hauser regained the wealth he lost: 'It's the best thing that ever happened, losing it, because I have so much enjoyed regaining it.

'It would be hard to get back to number 12 now, I suppose I am at about 200 today.' And still doing the washing up.


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