When Japan Trolled IBM: The American Computer Giant

Abhishek Kumar
2 min readSep 10, 2021

The relationship between the USA and Japan is known worldwide. Japan never imports anything from America from the day America bombed the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, the cold war between the two of the most developed countries in the world ceased due to globalization and the commercial relations between the two nations are good enough.

The USA is quite intelligent to set up most of its manufacturing plants for the world-renowned products across the world in countries where the manufacturing cost is less and the labor does not demand any huge sum like that in America.

So you would find the manufacturing units of iPhones and several other such American gadgets in China, India, Japan, and all other countries where labor is very cheap. Besides, America also imports raw materials and parts of gadgets prepared in these countries to assemble them and sell as a product.

This incident took place when IBM, the American computer giant, had decided to test Japanese manufacturing capabilities by placing a trial order for some computer components. However, they put up a condition that they would accept only three defective parts per 10,000. This means if a package of 10,000 parts contains more than 3 defective pieces, the entire consignment would be turned back by the brand.

Well, this is clear English and perhaps the Japanese did not understand what IBM meant. But since it was clear in the instructions, they sent the consignment with some literature that said, “We Japanese people have had a very difficult time understanding IBM business practices.

However, with great difficulty, the three defective parts per 10,000 have been separately manufactured. They have been included in the consignment in separate packaging, with bold instructions — DEFECTIVE PIECES, AS PER REQUIREMENT. NOT FOR USE. We hope this pleases you.”

If you did not get this, the summary is Japan manufactured and tested all the parts well enough to ensure no defective pieces in the lot of 1000 products. And as demanded by IBM, they sent 3 defective pieces separately that were manufactured separately with a lot of effort.

This story tells that for some people, perfection is a habit and you cannot demand anything less from them. They would take time if they are asked to do anything less than perfect.



Abhishek Kumar

A Passionate Writer with love for Technology. I love discovering new gadgets and writing about smartphones. However, do not let technology take away your sleep.