This may well be an apocryphal tale; the book where I originally read it is out of my collection, and now out of print. But it’s too good a story not to repeat. The details will be incorrect, but the situation is around the place…
It’s time for the Chief Executive (CE) of Sony and his entourage to review the results of his design team. The MiniDV format has taken off; consumers across the world love the battery life, the compact assembly, and the excellent picture quality. Confident that they have a winning formula, the CE is keen to make a statement by bringing the next camera to market in a ground breaking tiny form factor. Today, the team presents its work:
Team Leader: As you can see, this new prototype uses the latest technology from our laboratory. It is very small, yes?
CE: It is small. But not small enough.
TL: But sir.. see the compact new battery design, more powerful than the last in a smaller package? the thin preview screen, reinforced by the latest alloys?
CE: I asked for a small camera. You must build a smaller camera!
TL: Sir.. we have pioneered new technologies – building a circuit board that wraps around a corner… a new loading mechanism which does away with a whole subassembly… even our switches are arranged to minimise space…
CE: (snaps his fingers)
(an aide brings a bucket of water to the boardroom table)
(he drops the prototype camera into the bucket)
CE: See? Bubbles! You are wasting space! You can build a smaller camera!
The next prototype became the PC1…