Bruce wrote: "Why do I get irritated when I go into O"Reilly's and ask for some 5/8" silicone heater hose or some Gates 1/4" neoprene fuel hose and the counter person blankly looks at me and asks, " What year, make and model car do you have ?"............Bruce"
You can blame all of that on a guy I used to work with named Dave Kimpton. He was a Software Engineer at Data General and was working on relational databases and, in particular, the integration of our Point of Sales and Inventory Management (PSIM) products with NAPA stores, first in the Northeast and then nation wide.
The inventory management system ballooned into more of a "Customer Requirements Planning and Inventory Replenishment" system and was floundering mightily because of way too many variables: Many, many different car manufacturers and then even many more different models, the same part used across manufacturers and car models, different parts used across manufacturers/models, different replacement parts (with different part numbers) from different sub-manufacturers and on and on.
Dave was caught between Data General (DG) Management and NAPA management, getting no-where and realized he had to do something, so he quit DG and formed his own software company specializing in Auto Parts Store Customer Requirement Planning and Inventory Management. It was Dave's idea to go with the make, model, year (and VIN, later on) as a preface to looking up anything, and then putting all of the available replacement parts into a huge relational database that sees the part first, then has tags applied for different years, makes and models and any caveats at the part level. After that, it was pretty easy to reference any part to any make/model. Looking them up at the parts counter was just the opposite - Enter the car make or model and that eliminates TONS of look-ups so the computer can return an answer in seconds, even from huge databases.
The next thing they realized was that five different people will describe the needed part four different ways, so they had to tag all of those different look-ups, too.
Eventually, NAPA shelved the DG product (but bought the hardware and database management software) and bought Dave's system. He marketed it well and it became very popular while expanding into repair shop management and a bunch of other stuff.
The last time I saw Dave was at a DG reunion and when he told me what he was doing I told him he deserved a swift kick in the nuts, just for all of the aggravation when I go to a store for a part for Pearl and the first thing they ask is "What's the year, make and model of the car?"