What happens when the power goes out
2/9/2011 2:35 PM EST
Sometime in the last century, I worked for a hot new start-up that was all set to launch its first product at a shindig in a fancy hotel in New York City, along with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, and champagne and jumbo shrimp for all the press and VIPs in attendance.
We had hired top-flight industrial designers, so the enclosure for the hardware looked very cool, but unfortunately, the actual electronics to go inside the box wasn’t ready by show time. The front panel was there, with a little alphanumeric LED status display, so I wired up a battery to the LEDs so that the box appeared to be on, even though it couldn’t actually do anything.
The press and VIPs sat through the executive speeches and PowerPoint slides, and then came and peered at the box, suitably impressed by the whiz-bang technology supposedly inside. Right then, all the power went out in the room. The only thing you could see in the gloom was my battery-powered LED display.
The engineers in the room were horrified – it was obvious now that the box wasn’t even plugged into the AC supply.
We were all set to explain about the imaginary invisible battery backup, but luckily that wasn’t necessary: None of the press or VIPs had noticed.