2. A very rich business man had this vision. [This really happened]. An intelligent computer system for dealing with purchases of anything over the telephone. So you could ring this service, and a conversation would go like this:
'Hi! Welcome to XXXX service. What do you want to buy today?'
'I'm interesting in buying an estate car, a Volvo I think.'
'Yes. We have a number of Volvos in stock. What spec', colour would you like etc'
[Goes on like this. The user tells the machine their address & credit card number & the rest is magic.]
He had already approached a major software company who had produced for him an ITT (Invitation To Tender) document, for around £100,000 I think. This had lots of diagrams in it, showing things like 'Voice Recognition Engine', 'Language Parsing Engine', 'Logic Engine' etc. However, the company which produced this refused to bid on the actual project (they had some sense).
However, our top level management had decided that we must bid on ALL projects, no matter what they were, including this one.