"For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies."
Stuff the movies, this was real life:
We had a new IED control board in for examination. As per normal the IDs were scratched off the ICss. Our resident electronics guy was pretty good at working out what they were from the surrounding circuitry (usually 74 series TTL plus 555s). But on this device there was also one of those ICs in a little metal can. That was a bit of an unknown. We cut the top off the can then I set up the big Zeiss microscope for incident illumination and read the part number straight off the die. I remembered seeing it advertised in WW. The complete operation if the device was analysed in about an hour.