By Grant Jacobs 26/05/2018


As you age history repeats itself. Anyone over about 30 will know what I mean.

Today I was reading over at ArsTechnica how some of the Apple 6 phones were bendier than earlier models, and Apple knew it. The writer reports,

These touchscreen-controlling chips became unseated from the logic board due to bending and flexing with normal use.

Back in the day—you knew this would start this way—Apple’s boards flexed all by themselves. Or at least the clones did.

As an undergraduate student I spent a vast sum of money on a Sundox, a Taiwanese clone of Apple’s vaunted ][e computer. The ‘e’ stood for enhanced. This model came with 64 kilobytes of RAM, rather than 48. And we could program it using a high-level language that the university taught us called Pascal, named after the famous mathematician Blaise Pascal. With Pascal’s help us would-be computer-lords made the machines our minions.

In the beige box with it’s characteristic sloped keyboard a single large motherboard held the sockets for the computer’s chips. A small number of screws into plastic columns kept it aloft from the bottom of the case.

After a certain amount of time using the computer enough heat would build up that the motherboard would bend. The bending forced the chips slightly upwards, out of their sockets.

Lore had it that if after a few hours the machine starting behaving a little, well, STRANGE, sage advice was to turn it off, pop the lid, and—carefully—push all the chips back into their sockets.

(There was also rumours that some computer repair shops were taking ‘broken’ Apple computers, pushing the chips back down, waiting a day or so, then giving the machine back for a suitable fee…)

Attempting this on your phone would almost certainly void your warrantee. In any case this issue, like the ][e, should (hopefully!) now mostly be history. (Apple are up to the iPhone X—if you can afford one!)

In the case of the model 6 phones, it’ll be from what companies now tersely put as ‘external mechanical force’. Company boards might want a degree of flexibility, but computer motherboards want to be rigid.

Other articles for geeks on Code for life

Sinclair ZX envy

What use now is handwriting?

Finding a long-lost treasured item

Christmas tree

Filing research papers and web browsing: Zotero, Zotfile and Vivaldi

Developing bioinformatics methods: by who and how

Footnotes

The Sundox is not listed in Wikipedia’s list of Apple ][+ clones.

About the featured image

The ‘real deal’, an Apple ][+. I couldn’t afford one of these! Image sourced from Wikipedia, under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.