Thursday, September 29, 2005
Muntzed the car to death
And how did Muntz get his circuits designed to be so inexpensive? He had several smart design engineers. The story around the industry was that he would wander around to an engineer's workbench and ask, “How's your new circuit coming?”
After a short discussion, Earl would say, “But, you seem to be over-engineering this—I don't think you need this capacitor.” He would reach out with his handy nippers (insulated) that he always carried in his shirt-pocket, and snip out the capacitor in question.
Well, doggone, the picture was still there! Then he would study the schematic some more, and SNIP… SNIP… SNIP. Muntz had made a good guess of how to simplify and cheapen the circuit. Then, usually, he would make one SNIP too many, and the picture or the sound would stop working. He would concede to the designer, “Well, I guess you have to put that last part back in,” and he would walk away. THAT was “Muntzing”—the ability to delete all parts not strictly essential for basic operation. And Muntz took advantage of this story, to whatever extent it may have been true, and he publicized his “uncanny” ability to cut his costs—in yet more televised advertisements.
Reminds me of my friend Bill's father. Bill got the old family car once he got his license (hey, it was a 'Vette … okay, a Che“vette”). Over the years as the car broke down, Bill's father would repair it, and rip out more and more of the engine block. “Don't need this hose,” he'd say, “since it doesn't snow.” Or “don't need this belt, since it never snows.”
Slowly, over time, the engine became more sparse as Bill's Dad work the engine over. Eventually though, the engine became too spare and it broke down just outside of FAU and never ran again.
Bill's Dad might have muntzed the car to death.