The Intel Press Incident
On Friday, March 7, 1997 I had enough reasons to feel threatened by Intel. Several sources kept warning me on an almost hourly basis, that Intel is going on against me. It is pretty pathetic to expect me to wait until the bad thing eventually happens, because then I would have been in serious trouble with my limited resources. In the weeks before this day Intel had already shown that it is trying its best to intimidate the press, by putting pressure on two German computer magazines. One of these two magazines was taking this action quite seriously, the other magazine's chief editor preferred to play it down, although he was publishing an editorial dedicated to this subject. I don't want to comment on this kind of reaction too much, but I should be allowed to wonder, why this guy is now bathing in the publicity my website and especially my visitors were generating for him.
Now I don't have a legal department, neither several million $$ to spend in case of a lawsuit. The only chance I had was going to the public and this only worked because especially the American public neither likes censorship nor the small but right guy being crushed by a wrong but huge enemy. My support from all over the world was amazing, but particularly the US Americans were raising hell against Intel. Probably I am not even able to make myself a picture of how high the pressure was onto Intel, but four days later Intel announced that they will not take any action against me.
On Monday I was contacted by several journalists from the US, the first one was John Markoff from the New York Times. Unfortunately I don't have the time to speak to several journalists on the phone, so I decided to tell my story to the first one, John Markoff. I do realize that this was not fair to all the other journalists, but I just didn't have a choice. I hereby apologize to all of the ones I did not contact back.
On Tuesday evening, which was Tuesday morning in California, I eventually found the posting at Intel's support forum that said Intel won't do anything against me. This was shortly before I left for Munich, where I was meeting an editor friend. I told John Markoff about this finding, posted it on my website and asked you to back off from Intel. John Markoff obviously spoke to Intel's spokesman Tom Waldrop later on, who verified the above statement of Intel. He also contacted Georg Schnurer, the hardware editor of one of the threatened magazines.
Although the information in John Markoff's article from Wednesday, March 12, 1997, NYT, is not completely correct in all respects (e.g. the ZD magazine's name is 'PC Professionell'), and is also having a conclusion that I don't share at all, it had a big effect in the computer industry and especially at the CeBIT, which was just about to start on Wednesday, March 12. Other newspapers like the Herald Tribune published a similar article on Thursday and several online news providers published this information as well.
This eventually forced Intel to admit that they indeed have threatened the two above mentioned computer magazines, which you can read in this article of San Jose Mercury News . Intel also advertised on a whole page of the New York Times on Thursday, March 13, where they stated they would not try to pressurize the press. On Friday the publisher of ZD's PC Professionell got a visit by the same European Intel representative who first threatened them, to say his apologies to her. The other magazine is still waiting for an apology. I myself had the pleasure to speak to Intel's German spokesman Dr. Heiner Genzken. The conversation was actually quite enjoyable and I feel like my personal problems with Intel are completely resolved.
Only now the German press got wind of this incident, which I actually consider as pretty dam' late, and now you can read in Germany about these happenings only without any mention of my website. I actually guess that this is due to the chief editor mentioned in the first paragraph, since he was the one who was interviewed and he probably just forgot about somebody as minor as me. I don't really bother about the German press, so if he prefers to enjoy this publicity on his own, then he shall go ahead and do it. I never wanted this kind of publicity myself, I rather go on and get visited by people who are interested in PC hardware, just as it was before.