I just put a new graphics card and some RAM in my old desktop. It’s a satisfying experience, being able to crack open a computer, seat new components, then start up your machine afresh – faster, better.
It’s an experience we’re beginning to lose. As our computing becomes portable, optimised, the number of user upgrade options decreases. You can’t add memory to your iPad. Many notebooks ship with integral video and no upgrade slot. That’s if they allow you in at all, as a humble user. It’s even becoming a specialist job to replace a simple battery. Not many people have a set of jeweller’s screwdrivers and a spudger to hand… But that’s what you need to get into an iPhone 5.
The lineage of the desktop PC – the “home computer” – can be traced back to the kits for enthusiasts to build at home. Computers shipped as boxes full of parts, with instructions for assembly. Perhaps we should see the upgrade experience as a hangover from that; a legacy of a culture now passed.
Still, it’s sad to notice the last gasp of anything useful.