World Telecommunication Day 1999

IHT October 11, 1999

Spotting a Winner

By Peter C. Goldmark Jr., chairman and CEO of the International Herald Tribune

Dear Reader,

Can you spot a winner?

In the middle of the last century, a young man walked into the Western Union Company. It was then one of the dominant communications giants of the world; today it is a small and relatively insignificant company. The young man had an invention.

No, Western Union told the young man, your idea will go nowhere, and we have no interest in it.

The young man's name was Alexander Graham Bell, his invention was the telephone, and the rest of the story is history.

My father, Peter Goldmark Sr., was an inventor in the field of electronic communications. He developed the first color television system and the long-playing record. In the 1960s, he took to the bosses of the company whose laboratories he ran, CBS, an early version of what we know today as videotape recording. They looked it over - and told him they were not interested.

Can you spot a winner?

Throughout the pages of our forthcoming series of Sponsored Sections on telecommunications, assembled to coincide with Telecom 99, you will have a chance to see if you can detect the new ideas in telecommunications that will become powerful at the break of the 21st century.

Why does the International Herald Tribune devote such intensity of coverage to this area of human endeavor? Because the telecommunications and information revolutions comprise one of the great formative forces of our time. The modern communications revolution, which began in the second half of the 19th century and continued throughout the 20th, has merged with the information revolution of the second half of the 20th century. The companies, the talent, the ideas and the trends that you will read about in our pages and hear about if you are a visitor to Telecom 99 in Geneva will constitute the raw material from which the cast and the directions of this drama will be drawn. You live in a blizzard of information where there are more data, facts, nonfacts and opinions coming at you than you can possibly sort and absorb intelligently. One of the things our readers count on us to do, they tell us, is to sort and prioritize for them. They trust us to do this intelligently, independently and, above all, concisely. Because the scarcest resource you and I have is time. We hope this series of sections in the IHT this week will help you spot a winner, and be a winner.