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.
Readers of a certain age will remember CompUSA, a defunct big-box computer retailer. What happened to CompUSA? It went out of business, then came back as an undead brand, then went away again.
In some ways, CompUSA was the epitome of 1990s computer retail. It had huge big box stores with aisles of software and upgrades. It sold desktop computers, including its own house brand, Compudyne, manufactured for CompUSA by Acer. But the business model didn’t work as well in the 21st century.
After having a second Insinkerator garbage disposal in about three months give it up and start leaking, I started wondering if there might be a way to get drop-in replacement at a lower price.
I found it. Actually, I found several. Emerson, the maker of Insinkerator, sells a budget brand they call Evergrind. And an Evergrind garbage disposal costs several dollars less than a comparable Insinkerator while still using the same mount. Ace Hardware garbage disposals (their house brand) are the same, as are True Value Master Plummer garbage disposals. Essentially all three of them are Insinkerator Badgers with a different label and molded a different color.
When Radio Shack announced its bankruptcy, I read more fears that the age of tinkering is dead than I read laments for the store.
I follow the logic, because Radio Shack was the only national store chain that ever tried to cater to tinkerers. But I don’t think people abandoning Radio Shack means tinkering is necessarily dead. I have plenty of indications that it’s still very much alive, but it’s also very different from how it used to be.
A frequent question I see regards the proper scale of snow village-type buildings, like Department 56 and Lemax, and whether they’re suitable for use with Lionel electric trains.
The answer is that their scale varies, but the buildings work very effectively with traditional Lionel trains, or, for that matter, 1:64 S scale American Flyer trains. Many hobbyists have built elaborate winter-themed layouts using these buildings. Typically the scale runs from anywhere from 1:64 to 1:48, with lots of selective compression to make the buildings fit an approximate footprint. The very same thing is true of the Lionel trains of the 1950s, so, intentional or not, they end up being a pretty good match.
The figures sold with these buildings, on the other hand, tend to be much larger–very close to 1:24 scale. This discrepancy bothers some people more than others.
Consumerist has a sad story about a woman who was electrocuted by a cheap USB charger. The danger seems greater in countries that use 230 volts around that house rather than 115 like the United States, but even 115 volts can be dangerous if it crosses a vital organ.
A charger’s job is to take the higher AC voltage that comes from the wall and convert it to 5 volts DC to power the phone or tablet plugged into it. Poor design or poor manufacturing can cause the wall voltage to go where the converted voltage is supposed to. Literally, getting the wires crossed in this situation is very dangerous.
The solution is to be careful where you’re buying your chargers. Don’t buy them out of the back of a van, and don’t buy them from the dollar store. Get a charger made by a company you’ve heard of, and look for a regulatory logo on it. Approved products sold in the United States generally will bear a UL (Underwriter Laboratories) logo on them, while approved produces for the European Union will bear a CE (Conformité Européenne–European Conformity) logo.
I agree that many chargers are greatly overpriced, but there are reasonably priced, safe third-party chargers available too, such as the Amazon Basics USB charger, which costs around $9. Some stores have their own house brand that are similarly priced. Even at $9, there’s a comfortable profit margin for the retailer.
It’s fun to customize Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars. I tend to buy representations of pre-1950 cars and un-hotrod them so they’ll look like they belong on my O27 (1:64-ish) train layout; others buy them, paint them differently and put different wheels on them to make something different from what Mattel sells.
It’s a job you can do with simple tools and materials, at least at first. But like many things, you can keep it as simple or get as advanced as you like. And while you won’t do your first car in 15 minutes, it’s easy to divide a car project into 15-minute-per-day steps, especially if you work on two or three of them at once, and at the end of a week you’ll have a few nice cars to show for your time and effort.
My 15-inch Dell LCD died this weekend. Its date of manufacture was October 2001, so I can’t complain. I bought it used a number of years ago and paid a pittance for it. It had been acting up for more than a year, and at least it had the decency to wait until a potential replacement was on sale before dying completely.
Best Buy had its house-brand 20″ LED monitor on sale for $90, and I had a gift card with a few dollars on it, so I braved Best Buy again, and found a good low-end monitor for the money. Read more