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(links)-> How computers work and the decay of owners manuals submited by Russell Tue 19 Jul 05
Edited Thu 02 Feb 06
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How Computers Work (circa 1971) An interesting look back in time.

Samples from the Model T Owners manual An inciteful Slashdoter noted how different manuals used to be in the past.

I feel a Rant coming on here, but I will resist and just note the key points

  • In the past owners manuals used to contain lots of details like wireing diagrams on TV manuals or Repair instructions on Small appliances.
  • I remember having some of the same ITEM purchased a few years appart where the ealier manual had more details.
  • Except for examples where stuff was DELETED from manuals this could be innocently explained as cost saving steps where the company saved money not writeing and printing the more complete manuals.
  • Clearly as the Electonics consumer evolved from a hobbist to a user much of the need for such details in manuals (by most users) decreased. There is no better example of this trend than the evolution by RadioShack. In the begining they were a store that catored almost exclusivly electronics hobbists. Today they have all but abandoned that market and perfer to sell remote control toys and Cell phones. It has gotten such that I hate going to a RadioShack, they never have what I need or if they do it's 10 times more expensive than I can get online. the only benifit they have is that I don't need to wait for an item to ship. ( this coming from someone who used to love going to RadioShack to buy computer parts or TTL chips for hobbies )
  • even if detailed manuals are not needed by 95% of the customers, why deny the few that want the details that information?
  • one reson to DENY the users detials is to make money on service, or selling the detailed manuals for more money. ( although for only few products is such a manual avaible)
  • another reason to DENY users the detials, a far more depressing reason, is that companys need to shield themselves from libility. If you hurt yourself fixing a toaster oven, even if they have warnings in the manual about how to safely repair it, they could still get sued. They are in a better legal posistion if they tell you 'do not touch it' than if they say 'only touch it if you do x,y and z'. It annoys me how many aspects of life are more complicated because of the actions of over zelous lawyers.
OK I still ranted more than I ment to.. but I got it of my chest, and besides, nobody reads this ;-)
Related:
How Stuff is Made [madehow.com] It's a bland format, but it does contain a lot of information.


Replys:
Peoples Computer, really old comptuer news letter (Russell)
30 years of personal computer market, Old computer product Brochures, hard drives,old tech (Russell)

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