ARM Sign on the Dotted Line

I notice that one of Cambridge’s most successful companies, ARM, is selling itself off for big money. Twenty-four billion pounds, to be (approximately) precise. That seems like quite a lot. House prices down in Fulbourn are set for a little tickle.

I like to think one day I will get to sign on the dotted line for a 24 billion pound deal. I like to think, also, that my hand wouldn’t shake. But failing all that, and perhaps rather than actually sign on the dotted line, I think I would most like to use one of these dotted line pens. It is perhaps more my style.

Bureaucracy is not what it was. Now it is all virtual. If you are not signing things digitally, you are nowhere. The tools of your trade, beyond your computer, are a stapler (if you can get it to work), a hole-punch (if you can get it not to stick) and a paper clip. In the office at OISE we favour torn up scraps of paper for notes. If I sign for something, it is an illegible digital signature on some unwieldy pad brought by some delivery man or woman who seem satisfied with any sort of illegible mark.

Time was, you would require a presentation set of drawing instruments before you would even contemplate running something up in triplicate. You would settle down to work in a high-wing collar and tail coat, and progress empires and corporations through the measured flow of ink, the steady accumulation of dockets and receipts and despatches.

I have a feeling that even the engineers at ARM, specialist in the always-becoming Internet of Things, would pause to gawp in wonder at the simple yet sublime mechanism of the line-dotting pen.