Knowing which one

There is an old story that I like, but I can’t find it on the web. It goes something like this:

This was back in the days of large servers with big vacuum tubes. A major server stopped working, causing panic in a large corporation. All work ground to a halt. The engineers could not figure out why the machine had stopped working. They called in the best of the best, a consultant named Smith.

Smith looked at the server closely. He pulled a roll of duct tape out of his back pocket and tore off a piece. Smith reached in deep into the inside of the machine and placed the duct tape over a small valve. Immediately, the server whirred to life to the great relief of the executives.

The famed consultant, Smith, handed his invoice to the management for a million dollars. It read:

  1. Roll of Duct Tape: $1.99
  2. Knowing which valve to put it on. $999,998.01

I wish I could find the original way the joke was told. To me the lesson is two fold.

  1. Tools are nothing without an expert.
  2. An expert is nothing without his tools.
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