Hair Raising

Huber had also been partially responsible for the business model which made SMV’s video hairstyling system look like commercial alchemy. The equipment and software were purchased from SMV by manufacturers of hair care products: Wella, Schwarzkopf and L’Oréal. These three companies leased systems to salons on generous terms: interest free with repayment via forgone discounts on haircare products for the duration of the lease. SMV and the cosmetics companies generated the publicity, which drove customers into the salon. As it was both novel and visual, TV stations, newspapers and magazines were keen to feature the system; there was a lot of editorial coverage, also advertorial in the form of vouchers for free video hairstyling consultations. For those who somehow missed out on one of these offers, the consultation typically cost 10 marks, which the salon deducted from the cost of the restyling. Basically, wherever you were in this deal, video hairstyling appeared to cost nothing. Only salon owners who hadn’t yet bought a system felt they were losing out …

… (An extract from The Ghost in the Labyrinth by Peter Kruger)

Taking a Cut

Probably more Reuters video terminals were used in hair salons than on trading floors. It was edge detection software we developed to measure culture growth in petri dishes that enabled us to blend hairstyles with [...]