21st Century Build-It-Now Service Bureaus

A long time ago when Brian Beckman and I designed the "Encyclopedia of Software Components" it was the most requested NASA Tech Brief from JPL that whole summer. We invented a thing called the, "Get It" button. If you were in our software catalog, pressing the "Get It" button downloaded that software to you right then and there. A lot of people liked that.

I'm supposed to be a software engineer, except I'm an aerospace engineer too. Sometimes I like to design simple circuits, just for fun.

I put them in the circuit simulator on my PowerPC and see if they'll work.
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they catch on pretend fire. If a design works, I want it built. It takes weeks of running around and pretending to be nice to get the parts. I don't like running around and I don't like pretending to be nice. I like pretend fire.

A lot of people are busy putting industrial parts catalogs, like the famous Thomas Register online, so that you can contact ANY company to get the parts you need for your design using their toll-free number and your credit card.
I have a different idea.

What if, after I built my circuit, I pressed a button beside the PRINT button, called, "ORDER IT". AND What if, the very NEXT day, those parts appeared at my doorstep in a cardboard box. No road trips, no phone calls, no exchanging pleasantries, no credit card voices, no nothing. Just my parts, ready to catch on pretend fire. Viola.

Why should I have all the fun? What if I pressed a NEW button called, "BUILD IT" that sent the design to a 21st Century Build-It-Now Service Bureau? A place like Kinko's-For-Circuits would build my design, right then and there. Lots of people would be employed. Why stop there?

FEDEX is too slow. What if they put my package in the bomb-bay of a GPS guided remote controlled aerial delivery system and dropped it off in the skies over my house 4 hours after I pressed the BUILD IT button? "When it positively, absolutely must be there now..." Companies would race like Domino's pizza drivers...

What if, after I tested my circuit, I pressed a NEW button, called, "100 COPIES". What if the NEXT day that item appeared in the stores.

What if you could press buttons like that for ANY kind of manufactured thing, not just a circuit. Then designer's could all freelance. There would be bidding wars for good designs that would look like the stock exchange floor. Lots of pretend fire.

A designer could submit a design, and a price. Since working prototypes would exist almost immediately, they could instantly be evaluated for their efficacy. Good designers would do well. Bad designers would burn up in pretend fire. - © 1996 L. Van Warren