Hard as this may seem, as recent as the late 70s, I was not allowed to use plastic transistors. A lot of our engineers came from Collins Radio, and they had a military-gear view of the world.
So, not only did we never see "fer'n" transistors, the ones we used had to have that metal-can military feel. It wasn't just where I worked. I once went to some sort of local nerd gathering, and one engineer loudly complained that because we had to make stuff to look like it was Mil Spec, that we were stuck using "antiquated crap like TO-3 transistors". This guy really hated them. I did, but had not as of this time seen any of those plastic Japanese output devices.
So.........back to The Cage........
We had this 70 MHz IF amp that would crap out when it got hot. (Which it did, and it was in an 8' high rack. Full of gear.) We figured out (I had help by this point) that it was a certain transistor. It was like a 2N918, only it had a 900 MHz vs 600 MHz f_t. (Maybe it was 1200 MHz vs 900 MHz. Too long ago to remember.)
Well, couldn't find those parts. TI stopped making the metal cans, and only National still made them. Cost $5. If you could find them. No one stocked them.
So, kvetched to the boss. His choice:
Plastic transistor, at $2.
"NO! None of that plastic crap. Understand?"
Uh...........ok...............how 'bout 2N918. Similar, cheap, and easy to get in metal cans.
"If Collins wanted a '918 in there, then they would have designed in a '918."
So, what to do? Easy, boss had me turn over my request for the metal can ones over to our Purchasing Dept.
In Wash., DC. You know, up north. People with attitudes worse than mine.
Wait a few months, and something showed up. You could see the the Nat Semi logo had been rubbed out, along with p/n. But not enough to know what it was.
Uh, oh............this portends poorly............
To make it worse, there was now a cheesy rubber stamped imprint on the top. P/n only. No indication who "made" it.
Things are looking worse.
Could it get any worse?
Every damn part in the bag had opens, shorts, or both. IOW, some were not even diodes, let alone a specialised RF device.
Time to call the schmuck who bought them. But not until after I clued in the VP I reported to.
"Hey, bub.............these transistors that you bought for me...."
"Yeah, glad you got them. How did they work out?"
"Uh, they don't."
"What do you mean? I got those for under $2/ea. The place you sent me to wanted over $5/ea. for them. How can you justify spending that much when I found them for much less?"
"The reason why you got them for less is because they aren't transistors.(You gotta be firm with those folks up there.) They don't work. They are unusable. I can't stick them in my ham radio. I can't even stick them in my "hi fi". They don't work. Period. I can't use them. You bought some fallouts from National that one of your East Coast buddies that runs some schlock house that sells re-branded crap. (Nice tact, eh?) You can even see where they tried to remove the National logo. So, what are you going to do about it?"
At this point he becomes defensive, and tries to stall for time. (Wouldn't you? With me on the far end, giving you grief.)
"Well, I don't care what you do with these damn things. You better find a way to get me the right ones before my boss wants to know why I still have a stack of IF amps that don't work. You do realise that my boss is Sully, don't you?" (He wasn't my direct boss, but he was the local VP, and I had a direct line to him when I needed it.)
"So, Jocko, if you had that sort of access, why didn't you bypass your boss and get the 2N918s or the plastic version? Wouldn't that have fixed your problem?"
No. Because he also came from Collins. And would ask my idiot boss why I was all wound up so tight. Nope, could not have done that. But get him to light a fire under Purchasing up north.................yep, no problema.
"So, how did the issue resolve?"
Well, funny that you should ask.
We kvetched to Collins about a lot of other stuff. Rockwell owned Collins at this point, and their idea of quality and innovation was to put a new coat of paint on increasingly thin sheet metal chassis.
So, after who knows how many months, they showed up for a dog and pony show. Trumpeting all their solutions to problems that should have never made it past Manufacturing QC.
And their solution.....................drum roll, please............
Use 2N918s in place of the funky ones.
Which is what we said months earlier.
And the problem:
Seems there was metal migration in the silicon. Not much, but enough to make all those 70 MHz IF amps a bit wonky when hot.
"Because, I hate you guys. I hate you guys so very, very much.
General Cartman Lee"