Wire-less.. far from it!
This story tells of an incident when
the manufacturing computer system was just getting going. Everything
had to have a code. If it didn't have a code you couldn't get
Purchasing to order it.
A young engineer from the laboratory
engaged in breadboarding printed circuit board prototypes wanted
to construct his circuit. In those days one had to actually build
something to prove it worked before embarking on a printed circuit
design. Not all functions were available in chip form and the
interfacing of the various bits was fraught with difficulty.
Not having any wire to join up the transistors, and the lab storeman
being off sick that day, he went off to Purchasing to order some.
"Lets look at the new computer
printout of codes" was the response.
They turned the pages of the vast tome
to the descriptions commencing with "Wire" then proceeded
to define more closely their requirement.
At last armed with a code for connecting-up
wire they placed their order with BICC (the local company who
made such stuff).
Now most local companies, with whom
we regularly traded, knew our codes. Many codes were specially
formulated to call up specific qualities of goods, for instance
released to various "Ministry Requirements"
the need for CV numbers for valves etc. No doubt BICC had their
own computer system and when an order from our company arrived
it was processed without question.
One day (long after the young engineer
had forgotten about the wire because by then he'd found some
in the bottom of a drawer in his lab bench) he was called to
the front door of the factory.
Outside in the narrow street stood a
huge articulated lorry (they were called "Queen Mary Lorries"
if I recall correctly
I've no idea why). On the back of
the lorry towered an enormous drum of cable. Rumour has it that
it stood the best part of 50 feet above the road although this
may have been a slight exaggeration.
Whether the code for the wire had been
copied incorrectly by the Purchasing clerk, the computer operator,
the supplier's ordering clerk, one of the supplier's manufacturing
staff or what
nobody ever let on. Fortunately we had a very
big warehouse over the road where we used to store stuff that
might come in useful one day