Question For The List

Jules Richardson julesrichardsonuk at
Fri Jun 9 08:46:12 CDT 2006

> But let's ask the list:  is there anybody else out there or that you know
> who buys a product only if it has repair documentation available?  
> And as a corollary, do you only buy products you want to run 20 years?  Or
> can you accept a product as being expendable?  

I don't know about 20 years, but I certainly expect 10 out of a device. I like 
things that do one job and one job only, and do it well - and based on that 
I've got no expectation of wanting to replace that device for a good few 
years, so I'd rather that it was built to last.

I'll run things like a TV, VCR, DVD player etc. into the ground, and I think 
somewhere around 1996 was the last time I bought a new part for a PC; I'll 
upgrade if someone's throwing a useful part out, but getting caught up in the 
"must upgrade every five minutes" cycle seems pretty foolish.

The problem these days is that so many items are built based on price rather 
than quality, are deliberately built to have a short life (in order to keep 
customers reaching into their pockets), and are built to do several jobs at 
once - none of which they do particularly well due to the price constraints.

Mobile phones are a good case in point. I want to use a phone to - surprise! - 
make phone calls with. I've got a camera for taking pictures. I've got a TV 
for watching TV. I've got a hifi (or portable CD player) for playing music on. 
I don't need a phone to do (badly, at low quality) all of those things - yet 
it seems impossible to get a phone these days that's built to last and handle 
phone calls well, without the expense of also paying for all the bundled features.

> How long should a computer part last?

For as long as the maximum life of its components under ideal (or as close as 
possible) conditions. Things like EPROMs and capacitors that are prone to 
dying can be replaced, so it's probably down to the natural life of other ICs 
- which is what, 50 years or so? No reason to expect that a properly-designed 
system with good cooling and no use of sub-standard parts can't be maintained 
and last that long if desired.

Which is strange if you think about it - much of this hobby will be dead in 50 
years time as the era of collectible systems is pretty much over (who wants to 
go around collecting PCs, Playstations and X-Boxes?). There'll still be 
emulators, documentation, research, and non-functional systems, but the 
running machines - which are of primary interest to most on this list I 
suspect - will be gone.

OK, that's depressing. Time for more coffee. :-)



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