Wednesday, March 14, 2001

History taking a leap forward

Set in a sprawling penthouse apartment on 57th street, Wave Systems Corp. hosted a WIRL (Wave Interactive RealTime Link-Up) for guests to see their technology in action. The hearty meal was prepared by Mr. Peter Sprague himself on his barbeque grill outside. I was also privy to a tour of his personal history. Some may recognize the name for his grandfather's business, started in Massachusetts: Sprague Electric Company. His great grandfather invented the electric trolley car. You start to get a sense of the electric minds in this family. I was equally fascinated by the photos of him with significant Russian politicians and threatening poses atop tanks in Poland. His "Cocktail Party Expeditor" was a brilliant idea formed in 1977, where you can beam contact information to someone you meet at a party, and see how many people you know in common --sort of like a Six Degrees meets Palm. Their Board of Directors is quite impressive too, with members like Nolan Bushnell, who invented Pong, and George Gilder.

Peter was chatting with's Gary Huff and GigAmerica's Scipione Borghese and Scott Egbert were getting ready for their trip to Austin for SXSW's major music festival. Spence Associates's Michael Gaida complimented me on my Valentine's soiree, which he and his wife attended. Hovering in the corner, I spied the actual gadget for the demo and soiree. Peter described it as a "scheme for removing cash from people in bars." But it's really a system that helps bars and vendors that advertise on the system make more money.