In 1976 I was employed as a manufacturing engineer at the John Deere Harvester Works plant in East Moline, Illinois. I was young, naïve and a bit overwhelmed coming from a small agricultural community in southern Alberta, now to a nearly two million square foot factory employing many hundreds of people. It was a time of abundance in the agricultural industry and I was one of dozens of new engineers hired from some of the great engineering schools in the USA.

Searching for a way to excel and differentiate myself, I became fascinated by the emergence of computers in many factories as a way to improve quality and increase productivity. Deep in the winter of 1976 I was given permission to attend a weeklong workshop at the University ...

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