January 1, 2001 |
As 2000 dawned, the people of Flanders couldn't have been prouder of Jo Lernout. The former high school science teacher's ideas about speaking to and through computers made him a player on the world's high-tech stage, an elbow-rubber with the likes of Belgium's royals and Bill Gates. Shares in his software company soared. His neighbors fervently poured their savings into what looked to be a sure winner in the new economy.