July 22, 2006

Demo Problems before the PC

Eric's note: This article from 1963 pre-dates the personal computer, but the message still resonates.

A BAD DAY ALL AROUND...was the headline in a business page story which told of gremlins creeping into a press review. The story related how the company, with appropriate fanfare, "cordially" invited about 100 guests "to attend the premiere demonstration" of its dry office copier, but the promotional build-up sagged into anti-climax when the machine, billed as the "industry's most advanced," failed to work. A red-faced press agent explained that the machine had "worked perfectly" before the demonstration. He blamed it all on a guest who inadvertently jammed a piece of onion skin paper into the back of the copier and somehow interfered with the normal workings if its electric ganglia. Still another perspiring spokesman explained that the machine had been transported from Toronto in a station wagon and suggested that some of its parts had been unduly jarred.

THE NEED FOR CHECKING...and rechecking of equipment, electrical outlets when needed, and all other facilities important to a press showing of a product cannot be over-emphasized. But even when the publicist checks, as this one evidently had since he said it "worked perfectly," companies are often at fault in rushing the introduction of models that are no more than prototypes. Pre-production units should be at operating perfection -- and with a product such as this, there should be stand-by units.

June 1963

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