It's the early 1990s, and this technician pilot fish works for a big minicomputer computer maker, supporting several different manufacturing lines.
"We were having a yield problem with the disk drive manufacturing line," says fish. "The machine that wrote the tracks on the blank disks during the assembly process was failing with a multitude of errors. They sent in several engineers to try their hand at solving the problem."
But they don't have any success. It doesn't help that the manufacturing facility is located across the street from a college radio station, and the signal from that station finds its way into the circuitry -- which causes electrical noise, and makes it that much harder to identify small signal fluctuations that might point to the source of the problem.
But after several failed attempts, a new engineer comes in to try his luck at solving the persistent problem. He gathers manuals, circuit boards, data books and schematics and goes off to a quiet room to analyze the problem.
More than a month later, he surfaces -- and announces that he's solved the problem and has fix.
Fish joins the rest of the team in a meeting room, where the engineer begins explaining what he has uncovered.
"After a few minutes of his presentation, we realized -- but didn't have the heart to tell him -- that the circuit board design he had found the problems in was the previous design and was no longer in use," fish says.
"Within a few weeks, we didn't see him around at the plant anymore. We never did know what became of him."
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