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Reliability of modern technology.

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posted on Sep, 6 2010 @ 12:53 AM

Originally posted by aorAki

Originally posted by RestingInPieces

Originally posted by aorAki
Inbuilt obsolescence.

Try fixing a power plug by unscrewing the back....oh wait....

What is that even supposed to mean?

I guess you probably think wooden Pencils have inbuilt obsolescence too, huh?


I mean that 'older' plugs you could take apart to mend, but now they are all one piece and you can't take them apart.

You can buy replacement "heads" for the plugs, cut the old one off and rewire it.

What was going wrong with the old plug that you had to take it apart and mend it in the first place?

posted on Sep, 6 2010 @ 01:02 AM
I actually have a theory concerning the cost of goods now versus the cost of the same items pre-1980's. In those days, credit was much harder to come by so people would have to save for something like a car or a TV. If they had to build onto their house or pay more for some good or service, they would go to their boss and ask for a raise.

Over the intervening years, credit became much more common and raises became much rarer. Because of this, people's wages haven't kept up with the cost of big ticket items because it's easier to get those items with credit. I recall when my parent's bought their first car on credit. My father didn't want to do it but my mother was driving some 40 miles one way to work and she wanted a reliable car that got good gas mileage (a chevy chevette in 1978 that got 38 miles per gallon highway by the way). We also had the Zenith cabinet television that lasted until I was in my late teens. We had a refrigerator that lasted for 20+ years and my mother still owns and uses the first microwave that she bought in 1983. It still cooks better than the one that I bought 4 years ago because the one that I had before that just stopped working one day.

posted on Sep, 6 2010 @ 01:51 AM
reply to post by dave_welch

Like some have already said, the stuff's more complicated nowadays

I have personally worked as a technician repairing consumer electronics and I can say, that most electronics DO get repaired (excluding the cheapest chinese stuff).

I can understand, that if you return a defective item back to the store and they just hand you a new one you might think it just goes to the trash bin, but I can asssure you, there are big effing halls with hundreds of techies inside them fixing these things behind the scenes

Last but not least, here's a few images to demonstrate, just how much more complicated stuff has gotten in the last 50 years or so:

50's TV

Plasma TV

DVB-STB (like your TiVO)


posted on Sep, 6 2010 @ 02:43 AM
I took electronics Eng. in college and have been into electronics and mechanics ever since highschool. The 3 big problems in elecronics today is not enough lead in the solder which leads to cold solder joints, too much heat where the capacitors and powersupply mosfets are and its too compact. They will squeeze the things that heat up next to capacitors and other parts that don't like heat. They never use a big enough solder joint/pad on the parts that do get hot and will cheap out on the heatsink.

Some things are made to go, like the tubes in flat screen TVs. They will use tubes that are too thin for the wattage being pumped in, they do it to save money and get alot of brightness at the cost of life time. They know the tubes will not last 20 years, but will outlast the warranty. We do have LED tech now that will outlast everything and I am sure people would pay an extra 10% to get one with reliable LEDs in it.

New inverter microwaves are full of problems, I have no idea why, they are still alot more simple then a computer power supply. Only thing I can think of is repeat buys. Big heavy transformers still win IMO.

As for cars, the way they are made is, engineer A designs all the components. Engineer B connects all the components together including all the wires and hoses in a 30x30foot room. Then engineer C is told to make all that fit in a tiny engine compartment and given instructions to put all the parts that will not break OVER the parts that do. Bonus to the engineer to put the belt system right under the rad hose in such a way that if the belt breaks, you need a new rad hose too. Designer A needs to cover the engine parts with fancy sheets of timewasting and then DesignerB needs to make the body look like most other current cars.

posted on Sep, 7 2010 @ 01:20 PM
Theres no real mystery here. We are just better at reliability engineering.

The perfect consumer product has zero failures in the warranty period and then 1 minute past the warranty end it all fails at once (benignly). Of course thats not possible in reality....

If it fails under warranty the company loses profit. If it keeps going for 20 years without component failure after warranty then it was over-engineered and the company could have used cheaper parts and made more profit.

For large run items like consumer products companies take getting the balance right very very seriously. For the most part they get it close enough that products so unreliable they bankrupt the company with warranty claims (see NSU Ro80) don't occur. Similarly the TV lasting 30 years without failure wont happen either.

posted on Sep, 7 2010 @ 05:34 PM
Another difference between "back then" and today is that technological progress is growing at a MUCH faster rate, so it doesn't make sense to fortify consumer products with indestructible material.

In the early-mid 1980's an average VCR cost around $200, with expensive models costing $800 dollars. This was about 7 years after the VCR made it's consumer debut.

The DVD player, on the other hand, made it's debut in the US around 1998. It basically came and went in under a decade, being replaced by Blue-Ray (at least in the home media center) with some of us still hanging on... while it took the VCR a whopping 25 (probably more) years to fade away, perhaps even as far as 2003 (as that was the first year that DVD rentals topped VHS rental. By the time DVD players were out for 7 years, the average price was $60 per player.

In relative terms of value that $200 VCR in 1980 amounts to about $450 today. A standard DVD player without a screen today goes for about $20 - $30.

posted on Sep, 7 2010 @ 08:09 PM

Originally posted by dave_welch
I've been saying this for a long time now but has anyone else noticed that things just dont seem to last as long as they used to?

example: when my parents were married in 1978 they got a zenith color tv as a wedding gift. you know the big wooden cabinet with two dials (one for uhf and one for vhf, for you kids who've never seen this) and it lasted until new years day of 2000 when the tube finally gave out. So they went out and bought a new orion tv with the same size screen and it lasted for 4 years... what's that about?? and now most hi def flat screens don't last even that long and they cost twice as much. Why is it that the more advanced things become the less reliable they are. how many people have nintendos and ataris that still work fine when their year old xbox or playstation has quit already?

also, look at the cars. how many worn out late 60's chevy trucks do you see running around, and if i had a dollar for every rusted out ford maverick i've seen cruisin along after 300,000 miles, i'd be a very rich man. all my friends with new vehicles are having all kinds of problems with the electrical systems and computer systems that they need to run nowadays.

Does anyone else think that the companies that build these things are making them faulty on purpose so that you'll buy another every few years??

any thoughts?>

In some cases you're right in others not so right. Older engines tended to not last as long as modern engines. American auto electrical systems were pretty goods but many others weren't. Lucas electrics comes to mind. Modern Renaults and Fiats are reat an give very good service, old ones not so much. A jet engine of today lasts a lot longer between overhauls than a piston engine of WWII. The reason you see older cars is that they are much easier to repair when something does go wrong. I would not even attempt to rebuild a modern engine and I tore apart a few older carburated ones and reassembled them, and they ran!

posted on Sep, 9 2010 @ 01:07 AM
I think that some other reasons (other than those already mentioned) include the actual materials things are made out of, and the shifting of a lot of manufacturing into countries where sweat shops and child labor are still fairly common.

Back in the "good ol' days" consumer products often contained toxic substances like lead and asbestos. I remember some old timers at this one place where I worked complaining about how lousy modern day paints are to the old lead-based paints at holding up to the elements. And if you have a home with asbestos shingle siding, it will probably last forever, but then again you really don't want to breathe any dust that might come off of it if you renovate your home! Same thing with the lead, for obvious environmental and health reasons these items which lent durability to certain products had to be abandoned in their manufacture.

I'm sure there were sweat shops and child labor back in those days, but at least in the US many more products were produced here in the US where the likelihood of children working in factories for 15 hours a day for little or no pay was a lot less than it is today.

As for vehicles, I think that some of the reliability issues (at least this has been my personal experience, unless I've just had the misfortune of driving the least reliable vehicles ever made, and I doubt that) have to do with all the computerization that is in vehicles today and in the last couple of decades.

I'll never forget the time I drove my mom's Buick to school in 1989 (this was an 87' Century so it was fairly new at the time) and it just cut out in the middle of a freeway on a bitterly cold day in January. My parents had put an emergency CB radio in the trunk (this was of course before cell phones) and not only could I not use that, I couldn't even run the engine to generate any heat! I sat there on the side of the 4 lane highway (it wasn't even close to an exit so I would have had to walk several miles) for over an hour before a state policeman came along and called a tow for me. And to find out that all of this misery had been caused not by any real mechanical problem but by a p.o.s. computer sensor that just "decided" to shut the car's whole electrical system down! Worse yet, to replace it was nearly 200.00!

And it doesn't seem to get any better - a couple of years ago the engine light kept coming on in my mom's '04 Honda CRV (I guess the Japanese don't make computer sensors any better than that which was in my mom's old 87 Buick!) and I finally had to take it in to the shop. Well, guess what - there was really nothing wrong with the engine, just some chitty sensor that had gone bad to the tune of over 500.00! IMO vehicles would be more reliable if they took that kind of crapola out of them - they ran just fine for many decades without the "assistance" of computers.

posted on Sep, 22 2010 @ 02:29 AM
My answer would be capitalism: Take a look at the capitalist mindset of the last couple of centuries. By the late 1800's machines burst into our world, powering everything and simplifying our lives in ways we could only have previously imagined. At this time, there are no patents as there are today, there is no defined market and most importantly: production is slow and imprecise (the cost of new units is still pricy). So, at this time machines had to be built to last as long as possible and had to be built right the first time (painstaking labor [by today's standards] was put into ensuring absolute quality and function of the product). Now look at the early 1900's. At this time, the market has grown and now the mechanized world is commercialized (no longer under the juristiction of the Industrial world). So, up into around the 70's a product was designed to last roughly a lifetime (rather than as long as it could last). This is due to the fact that the industries that create products strictly for thier own use want it to last to reduce cost, if its built for someone else you want it to be a quality product but after 30 years who is going to care? Now lets fast foreward to the late 70's where technology recieved a new boom in the computer world. Parts where now made so cheap that by the late 80's, the most intuitive devices are available to everyone who can save enough cash. In todays world, this mechanized industry is run by as market basis. The Corperate thought is (if it breaks after warrenty, they have to buy another and that increases our profit double fold if they buy from us again). And in a world where it doesn't take half a year's salary to buy a washing machine, with no other company offering a better way, people are forced into the sale of lower quality items as compared with thier older counterparts.

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