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StarTech.com University

StarTech University offers computer enthusiasts and IT professionals a chance to learn more about new technologies and innovations in the IT world. Take some time to review the material, then pass the exam to earn your printable certificate for each course.

Course 1: Hard to Find Computer Parts

Chapter 1: What makes a part "hard to find"?

Since its inception, all fields of computing have evolved. As part of this advancement, new and revised technologies have continually emerged to enhance or replace previous technologies, accommodating new performance and functionality standards. As a result, users evolve along with new devices and interfaces by replacing the original equipment, in order to maintain or "improve" their computing experience; based on supply and demand, the availability of 'older' technology declines in proportion to seemingly reduced necessity, making it increasingly "hard to find".

Amid the migration to the newer technology, many users prefer to maintain their configuration using legacy1 technology in conjunction with select parts and components designed to facilitate the use of more than one generation of technology. However, due to market trends and user demand, these parts can also be "hard to find".

A "hard to find" part can also be defined as one that is uncommon simply because it is designed to meet specialized requirements as a workaround to improve existing technology.

Example: The PS/2 Mouse

Between 1984 and 1987, the Serial Mouse, which connected to a host computer using a 9 pin D-SUB (Serial) connector, gave way to the newer, more compact PS/2 interface (6 PIN MINI-DIN design), creating an obvious incompatibility. As computer motherboards advanced to accommodate a PS/2 connection, the serial mouse became all but obsolete.

What if the serial mouse from an existing computer still functioned perfectly, even though a host computer motherboard (or the entire system to which it was connected) was replaced? The mouse would have to be replaced, with a newer, compatible version — unless an adapter (which is typically not easy to find) is used to bridge the two interfaces.

Next — Chapter 2: If it isn’t Broken, Why Fix It!

1The term "Legacy device" can be used to describe equipment that is still in use, even though more modern equipment exists as a possible replacement. Also defined as hardware technology used in conjunction with DOS-based systems.