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The Fag Packet Design Methodology

Old fashioned engineering - in the Midlands of England. Imagine the scene as some widget or other was designed at the turn on the last century. Chimneys belching smoke out over the "Black Country", and workers belching smoke out from their Players, Marlboro or Senior Service.

I've oft heard the term "it was designed on the back of a fag packet" used (American readers - please note that a "fag" is a cigarette here in the UK), and used with a degree of admiration ... often the complete phrase is "it was designed on the back of a fag packet and it's still in use, and working well, today". And there's good reason that a "fag packet" design should work well. Let me explain.

A cigarette packet is small - the clear space on the back is - what - 3.5" x 2"? And in that space, and diagram / design drawn could only be a simple, clean structure as there was no space for anything more. Smoke another pack of 20 (this post is NOT a serious suggestion that you smoke, as smoking can damage your health, that of your unborn baby, and that of those around you), and you can then take one of the components on your original design and expand that part of the design in a further level of simple, clean structure. Go on in the same way until your design is complete. The fag packet method is a great encourager of structured design ...

(written 2006-06-06)

 
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