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132 The Technology Balance Sheet

he compared the experience of dealing with vendors in a Texas city, a California city, and a Japanese city:

The following story illustrates the type of havoc that can ensue when a company deals with a poor vendor.

WAVETRACER. In building a signal-processing computer, WAVETRACER used an unreliable printed circuit board vendor to make its prototype boards. The boards had numerous errors, costing the firm several months over its plan at a critical time' when it needed a product and credibility with its first customer. Because of this schedule slip, WAVETRACER was forced to seek additional financing earlier and in a greater amount than would otherwise have been necessary. The valuation was decreased and the external ownership increased.

New microprocessors have historically had bugs. New complex microprocessors from semiconductor companies-including Intel, Motorola, and National-have all had bugs. The more complex the part, the more error-prone it is; hence, another reason for RISC. The first users are able to help find new flaws and often rediscover flaws that manufacturers forget to address. Apollo, Sequent, and several other companies have war stories to tell in this regard.

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