Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Back in the late 1990's
one of my colleagues (who is now in
Office Labs—check it out, they've got some pretty cool stuff)
filed an expense report for a hair dryer,
and it was accepted.
But what valid business purpose would there be for a tester to
buy a hair dryer?
At the time, my colleague worked as a tester for Windows power management.
One of the things that needed to be tested was whether the motherboard
accurately reported thermal stress
(translation: overheating) to the operating system
and whether the operating system
responded appropriately to these reports.
And when the project started,
the most convenient way
to get a motherboard to overheat on cue was to blast it
with a hair dryer.
Of course, more official equipment arrived later,
but it was definitely a cruel (or clever, depending on your point of view)
way to introduce new people to the team:
"This is your desk, and here is your hair dryer."
Bonus makeshift testing hardware:
During approximately the same era,
a joystick tester hooked up the joystick to a
series of mechanical linkages, all driven by a
record player turntable,
in order to stress test the joystick for hours on end.
And no, I don't know whether it ran at 33 rpm or 45.