PLaying with Avrdude

A professor gave me this servo unit with consists of an atmega 168. I wanted to see if I could read the flash memory off it. When I designated a file ( mystery.hex) and using the -U command it said it read flash but I can't find the mystery.hex file anywhere on my comp. This lead me to just erasing ( -e command) the chip with the intent of re-installing the proper bootloader and following that some arduino code.

Since the chip erase, I get the error

C:\>avrdude -b 19200 -c usbtiny -p m168 -F -v -v

         Programmer Type : USBtiny
         Description     : USBtiny simple USB programmer, http://www.ladyada.net/make/usbtinyisp/
avrdude: programmer operation not supported

avrdude: Using SCK period of 10 usec
CMD: [ac 53 00 00] [00 00 00 00]
CMD: [ac 53 00 00] [00 00 00 00]
avrdude: initialization failed, rc=-1
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions
avrdude: Device signature = 0x000000
avrdude: Yikes!  Invalid device signature.
avrdude: Expected signature for ATMEGA168 is 1E 94 06

Everything seemed to be in order when I was trying to read the flash memory off the device. I assume the lock bits were preventing me to do so.

The erase worked bc now the servos don't move eractically. I have disconnected the sevos since. Now I don't even have a device signature. I"m using sparkfun's pocket programmer and windows 10.

The next goal is to put a new bootloader, but now I have to somehow re-assign the signature.

Could this me a manufacturer setting, meaning when I erase flash it basically kills the chip entirely? ANy help would be greatly appreciated!!!