PC Format And Pinball

Back before the internet, if your computer didn’t work, you didn’t have the same options we do today. If you wanted to work out why a game wasn’t loading or why it was slow, you’d often be left with no recourse but to ask someone, someone who was either a technician or, more often than you’d think, you’d mail into a magazine, like, mail in with an actual letter and hope they’d understand your question, try to answer it, and print it in their column.

These things existed, they were like agony aunt columns but the solution was almost always something to do with including -RAM or -NOEMS in your config.sys file.

In Doc Destructo’s Gamewrecks episode on Tattoo Assassin, he mentioned the differences between pinball machines and arcade cabinets, and it reminded me of the story from my youth from one of these tech support columns.

See, one bloke had written in about his attempts to install a new graphics card, he found that it didn’t fit the place he thought it should in his computer. No problem, he said, as he was experienced with computer hardware from his job managing pinball machines in an arcade. He said he’d found the part that connected to the main board, and, using some of his work tools, made sure the pins fit.

Anyone who has worked on the insides of a PC is, I hope, cringing as hard as I did.

The tech support column was surprisingly nice to the guy, explaining to him that maybe he didn’t quite understand how fragile a PC was compared to the more ‘sturdy’ arcade machines he was used to working with. I think it’s from there that the word ‘sturdy’ got emblazoned in my mind as the defining trait of a piece of hardware that was meant to survive being dropped downstairs once in its life.

They told him to buy a new one and maybe get a tech professional to install it for him.

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