Two true stories of Charles P. Steinmetz (1865-1923)
Charles Proteus Steinmetz, an electrical engineer whose genius lived up to
his middle name, worked at General Electric for many years. One morning he
arrived at his office to find there had been a change in policy overnight. On
his desk, someone had posted a tidy cardboard sign saying, "No Smoking."
Steinmetz took out his pen, re-lettered the sign so that it now read, "No
Smoking --- No Steinmetz," and departed. The policy was changed.
One day a whole roomful of General Electric's most expensive machinery went
out of order. By this time Steinmetz had retired, but the company's baffled
engineers called him back as a consultant. Steinmetz ambled from machine to
machine, taking a measurement here, scribbling something in his notebook there.
After about an hour, he took out a large piece of chalk and marked a large 'X'
on the casing of one machine. Workers pried off the casing and found the problem
at once. But when the company executives got Steinmetz's bill for $10,000, they
were reluctant to pay it. "This seems a bit excessive for one chalk mark,"
Steinmetz was told. "Perhaps you'd better itemize your charges." Within a few
days, they received the following itemized bill:
Making one chalk mark $1.00
Knowing where to make one chalk mark $9,999.00