November 29, 2021

20 years old-amazing electronic design

My TI-30X function computer (this was probably an Italian computer I bought in 1993) broke down a few days ago. In fact, it should be said that only the 'X' key does not work properly, so I initially thought that the row and column drivers on the panel should still be usable. The problem is only with the 'X' key itself. After I opened it, I placed the transparent plastic sandwich circuit board (Myler?) Up under the light source, and then examined it carefully with an eight times magnifying glass. Of course, a hairline crack was found at the PC trace.

I originally wanted to fix it, but it seemed very tricky, because this line of crack is located between the plastic interlayers. I have to scrape off some plastic very carefully and perform an extremely small repair procedure-it is really difficult and time-consuming, and it is likely that the end result is not very optimistic. Therefore, it is time to replace the basic computer with a new functional computer. This time I want to buy a very different product model, in order to learn its design skills, features, functions and details, and even the basic function key configuration of the new device.

Therefore, I was really overjoyed when I discovered TI-30XA. This product is now made in China, and as long as it costs $ 10, it can be bought at OfficeMax near my home. What surprised me even more is that after about two decades, the TI-30 itself has changed little!

Caption: TI-30A function computer bought in 1993 (left) compared to TI-30XA bought in 2011 (right).

Although the product casing looks slightly different (in fact, it has been improved, now with a better slider design); however, the appearance, style, size and function of this device seem to be similar. Therefore, judging from the pricing of this product and the inflation-adjusted US dollar, I think its cost should be lower now, but I can't remember how much I paid for the TI-30. In any case, at a price of $ 10, I suspect that even a hermit like Newton (Isaac Newton) would want to jump out and buy such a device that can achieve powerful functions with only a small amount of money.

Although I ’m not sure whether the internal design or the bill of materials (BOM) of a new product like this have changed, because I have n’t had time to open it up to find out, but as a user, what kind of internal design It really doesn't matter to me at all.

The interesting thing is that the same product can still be bought after 20 years, and there is little change, which is really impressive. Of course, we have used many electronic products that can still maintain normal operation for many years after the generally expected effective use period, and they are also very reliable. For example, you can see that some instruments developed by Hewlett-Packard (HP) (now Agilent Technologies) many years ago are still used in many development or test laboratories.

But this situation is different after all. I do n’t just emphasize that a product can still function normally or be in use after a long time. The focus we should pay more attention to is consumer electronics products-these consumer electronics products generally have a short life cycle, and continue to update (whether the user wants it or not, or need it), so that users sometimes blindly It is believed that many products have been optimized at the time of development, perfectly combining features, design, functions and user convenience, so there is no need to even undergo any obvious user interface changes, that is, sustainable manufacturing and sales.

This situation is also common for most technically simple household products; therefore, it is not a problem for me to buy the same chain lock for a cabinet that has been used for 25 years. However, in terms of the modern electronic products we currently use, these more advanced and complex consumer electronics products are often soon outdated, and will be replaced by newer and better versions in just a few years.

Do you have any high-tech products that have been used for more than ten years and are still in normal use? And does it seem to have much external changes from the current generation of products?

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