Some 90s computer brands are the same as today, but a lot more companies played in the field than now. Profit margins were higher then, so industry consolidation wasn’t the matter of survival that it is now.
Here’s a look back at some of the brands of old, including some famous PC brands, some not-so-famous, and some notorious. The 1990s were certainly a make or break time for many of them.
What is Spectrum? Charter Spectrum, or simply Spectrum, is a new name to many parts of the country. Spectrum is the brand name for cable, Internet and phone service from Charter Communications.
Although Charter started using the Spectrum name prior to its merger, the name Spectrum gained prominence as a result of the second, fourth, and sixth-largest cable operators in the United States merging in 2016. Post-merger Charter is now a Fortune 100 company.
What happened to Packard Bell? It ceased operations in the United States in 2000, after a 14-year reign of terror on the consumer market.
But there’s more to the story than that. The Packard Bell story is a brilliant piece of marketing. The computers were terrible, but the marketing was as good as it gets. And that’s one of the reasons people remember it as one of the more prominent of the 90s computer brands, even if they don’t usually remember it fondly.
I’ve had high speed Internet for about as long as anyone in my ZIP code–as soon as DSL was available, I signed up and paid through the nose for it. It took a while for fiber to become an option, but I switched once I did. I’ve been a Southwestern Bell/AT&T customer for a good 17 years. Over the years I weighed it and AT&T vs Spectrum Internet.
I switched to Spectrum in 2016, then back to AT&T in 2018. There are pros and cons to each of them, so I thought going through them might be helpful. Keep in mind Spectrum encompasses several legacy companies. Charter Communications started re-branding itself as Spectrum soon before it acquired Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Of the three, only Bright House Networks had a good reputation. Hence the use of the new name.
If you have a side business, you need to offer customer service, but it’s also perfectly reasonable to not want your phone to ring at 3 a.m. You can fix that if you set up office hours in Google Voice.
Fortunately it’s easy to set up Google Voice to allow your phone to ring during office hours and go straight to voice mail after hours. And the nice thing is, Google Voice transcribes your messages. This makes it very easy to filter out people who are calling you trying to solicit your services at 25 cents on the dollar. I can’t say for certain that people are more likely to do that at off hours. But it’s certainly more annoying to get awakened at 3 a.m. by someone wanting to lowball you. And yes, I speak from experience.
Here’s how you do it if you don’t want to be disturbed at unreasonable hours.
The TP-Link TD-8616 is a low-priced, acceptable replacement for whatever DSL modem your ISP issued you. As such, it’s less exciting than a can opener, but a DSL modem is one of those things that you shouldn’t ever think about. Just like your can opener, the only time you’re likely to have any opinion at all about your DSL modem is when it’s not doing its job well. This is my review of the TD-8616.
The TD-8616 is just a modem, but then you can pair it with a router with whatever capabilities you want, including the ability to run third-party firmware on it, which I recommend of course. Might I suggest a TL-WR841n running DD-WRT?
Last night I saw reports that OCZ’s main creditor is forcing it to liquidate, and OCZ has an agreement to sell most of its assets to Toshiba. Its manufacturing plants and its Indilinxcontroller technology make Toshiba a good fit; Toshiba makes some controllers and they make flash memory, so this would allow them to expand their SSD business and/or compete with Sandforce by being able to sell a broader line of controllers and memory chips to companies like Kingston. Tuning Indilinx designs to match their own chips would likely improve both speed and reliability.
OCZ was an early contender and was one of the first companies to market a consumer SSD that had a reasonable mix of performance and affordability. The problem was that many of their designs were buggy and they had a poor reputation for customer service. They didn’t get a lot of repeat customers. I had a couple of 40 GB OCZ Vertex drives and they were OK. The problems with subsequent drives scared me away from buying any more.
It will be interesting to see what Toshiba plans to do with the acquisition.