In this blog post Bob Cringley recounts the following story (abriged for brevity here):
There was a time in the early 1980s when Intel suffered terrible quality problems. [..] The problem was caused by dust, the major enemy of computer chip makers.
[The blank wafers were made by Monsanto, who worked hard to ensure that their wafers were dust-free. This didn't solve the problem.]
Monsanto engineers hired a private investigator to tail the next shipment of wafers to Intel. Their private eye uncovered an Intel shipping clerk who was opening incoming boxes of super-clean silicon wafers and then counting out the wafers by hand into piles on his super-unclean desktop, just to make sure that Bob Noyce was getting every silicon wafer he was paying for.
This is a nice little story about the perils of running a giant company, which makes me suspicious; it smells of urban legend. I haven't been able to find any other report of this story, so I'm wondering if anyone knows the truth about this. Did it really happen?
Edit: The story is taken from Cringley's 1996 book Accidental Empires.