back to article California Right-to-Repair bill quietly killed in committee

A California Right to Repair bill, SB 983, died in committee last week, despite broad consumer support for fixable products. It's not clear who killed the bill, but Right to Repair advocates point to the usual suspects – the tech companies that benefit by controlling who can repair their goods and that have lobbied against …

  1. xyz123 Bronze badge

    More proof that companies like Apple 100% own the entire legislative branches of many States.

    Apple basically is allowed to funnel MILLIONS of dollars straight into the personal private bank accounts of democrats and republicans to pass or destroy any legal change they want.

    How the F--- is this legal?

    1. BlokeInTejas

      ..so are you. And Bill Gates. And a putative 'Right to Repair' orhganisation.

      What's the problem?

      But having a right to repair doesn't mean it's feasible to fix a specific thing. When a cellphone is just 4 chips (logic/memory, radio, flash, I/O) you'll need to remove the failing chip, buy a replacement, install it, test it.

      If the bill demanded that things be repairable, that'd be different. That would stop the vendors using modern tech, and sticking with old, The products would probably not even be sellable..

      1. bpfh Silver badge

        It's not just changing components on a board

        It's having that complete board available. Or batteries. Or not blocking parts like batteries if they did not come from the mothership because they are device locked. Or not requiring a full factory diagnostic when you replace a faulty throttle position sensor on a certain brand of tractor that any car owner can and have done with the correct Haynes manual for the past 20 years...

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: It's not just changing components on a board

          This is exactly the point. If people can repair our products, or take them to an independent repair centre, how on earth are we going to sell them another one this year? They might even wait two years before they replace!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "What's the problem?"

        The lack of democracy? According to the article, a clear majority of people, on both sides of the political fence, were in favour. But tiny minority of politicians, voted in by those people, were probably influenced by well funded lobbyists and managed to kill something the majority wanted.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      How the F--- is this legal?

      Everyone is free to bribe politicians, rich and port alike - that's democracy!

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Sorry rich and 'poor' damn autcompleate

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Self-evidently the poor don’t have much to offer up in a bribery sense. Maybe they’ll just have to suck one off behind a legislative chamber dumpster instead.

          Go democracy, integrity and accountability!!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        A law that prohibits people from sleeping under bridges apply to poor and rich people.

        It"s only that the latter are not affected.

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      Doubt it was Apple

      They are supporting third party repairs now, remember the announcement about how you can get parts, rent repair kits, full instructions etc. late last year? Yes it isn't perfect but it is a big turnaround from their position in years past.

      More likely it is John Deere that killed this. California may have more tractors than any other state, it is a huge agricultural state even though "farms" isn't the first thing you think of when you think about California. A law like that in California would make it really hard for them to prevent the same from happening across the country.

      Apple is comparatively new to lobbying, Deere had already been lobbying lawmakers for decades before Apple was founded, they know how to kill bills they don't like without leaving any fingerprints.

      1. the Kris

        Re: Doubt it was Apple

        "They are supporting third party repairs now"

        Some repairs for some devices. Are you able to buy the charge chip for every MacBook model sold in the last 10 years or so?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Doubt it was Apple

          Yes it sounds like they are only supporting this new repair program for recent devices, i.e. probably just those that were introduced since they started working on getting the repair program ready.

          Like I said not perfect but much better than the situation was before where they did nothing at all.

          1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

            Re: Doubt it was Apple

            Last thing I heard, apparently they only allow 'certufied' repair companies to get these parts and then they're only allowed to order whole boards or screens instead of a single chip.

            Check out Louis Rossmann's youtube channel to get the latest info on right to repair.

            Actually Reg, why don't you go to Louis for expert commentary? He definitely is an expert on this whole right to repair issue.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Doubt it was Apple

          Apple is playing games.

          They opposed this for years, and when it was clear that public support was overwhelming their decades long lobbying efforts, they rolled out their own program to stave of regulation.

          That program is tailored to look plausible but in fact leave them in control of the market, where they ruthlessly run independent shops under, dictate what can be repaired, and control the price, market, and scope of parts and repairs.

          The green tractor company doesn't have clean hands either, but Apple want's you to look the other way, and their shills want you focusing on a conservative run out of state company. They don't want you thinking about how Apple is dong the same thing, only in a way that is sneakier and more manipulative.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge
        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Doubt it was Apple

          And I'm not impressed he can't write an article. I refuse to watch videos that are simply people talking. If they won't be bothered to type their thoughts, I can't be bothered to listen to them.

          1. llaryllama

            Re: Doubt it was Apple

            What an absurd reply. Louis has been providing in depth repair videos and entertaining commentary on New York in general for years. In fact he has been one of the main engines behind the whole RTR movement and deserves a fair amount of respect.

    4. jmch Silver badge

      "How the F--- is this legal?"

      Through the very American thought process (sanctioned by the Supreme Court, no less!!) that "giving money is a form of free speech".

    5. Wade Burchette

      The people in a position to enable corporate lobbying are the ones who will lose the most when it is ended. Every federal and state politician leaves office far richer than when he went in. Part of that reason is because businesses are bribing politicians. You may get one or two politicians who are in favor of ending the bribes, but most will not. And so the problem will always exist.

  2. HildyJ Silver badge
    Holmes

    Not just tech

    John Deere, the farm equipment company, spends millions to block the right of farmers to repair their purchased equipment.

    And much of California is agricultural.

    The equipment gives them absolute control to the point that they can tell if you modify it and can remotely brick your equipment.

    https://www.theregister.com/2022/05/02/ukrainian_tractors_deere/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just tech

      The equipment gives them absolute control to the point that they can tell if you modify it and can remotely brick your equipment.

      Ah, that's like Tesla then, other than that they don't brick you but deny you access to their fast charger network. Bit of a shame, this legislation could have gotten quite interesting for their customers.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Not just tech

        "Ah, that's like Tesla then, other than that they don't brick you but deny you access to their fast charger network. Bit of a shame, this legislation could have gotten quite interesting for their customers."

        You also find that Tesla doesn't allow the mixing and matching of black boxes. In order to get them to work together you have to have the hardware and software to register the new boxes to the main computer in the car. Tesla will re-certify a rebuilt car, but the process is opaque, very expensive and the car can still fail if they don't like you. If you get the car to work but don't get it re-blessed, you not only can't use the SuperChargers, you can't use the phone app or get updates. Some third party chargers in the US are starting to include the proprietary Tesla plug so Tesla owners aren't as firmly tied to the mothership for DC fast charging.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Not just tech

      That is a selling point for almost all their clients. It's absolutely what you'd want too, if you had a big commercial farm, million dollar tractors, and guys on $30k a year driving them. It's like the automated factory with a man and a dog, where the man is there to feed the dog, and the dog is there to bite the man if he touches the machinery.

      Clearly it annoys the hell out of various diehard independents who are absolutely outraged that they can't fiddle with _their own_ million dollar tractor, but the problem there is that they're JD fanboys and so won't go and buy the alternatives intended for people like them.

      1. quxinot

        Re: Not just tech

        Uh no, the big commercial guys would much prefer to buy parts off the shelf cheaply and hire a cheap mechanic or two to be on staff for preventative maintenance when not fixing the big stuff.

        The big commercial guys like to make money, you see, and not spend it at the JD service department.

        I would still love to see alternative aftermarket support happen, though it'd be kinda a weird crossover to get the guys from microsquirt (an open-source ECU) working on tractors.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Not just tech

          It's not always a matter of cheap parts and a cheap mechanic. If the tractor is down when it's time to plow, plant or harvest, that can mean missing the season and a farmer not having much of a crop. These are the times when every factory authorized mechanic is going to be slammed and booked solid for the next month. If all you need is to replace an obviously broken sensor, it's very frustrating that they won't sell you one and it requires $4,000 in computer and software to "register" the new part to the tractor if they would. The software will also be on subscription so the fee has to be paid every year.

          1. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

            Re: Not just tech

            >If the tractor is down when it's time to plow, plant or harvest, that can mean missing the season and a farmer not having much of a crop.

            The basic problem there is poor service, because the original manufacturer has a monopoly on servicing their kit. As has been known for centuries, a monopoly supplier can put their prices up much higher than would be the case under free market competition. In the case of lackadaisical servicing, a monopoly supplier can also get away with poor service, because there are no competitors who could do a better job.

            To my way of thinking, Right to Repair might possibly come into the same category as anti-trust laws. I don't particularly want to get my soldering iron and hot air gun out to hack my electronic kit, but I would like a decent quality of service from qualified professionals, and at a fair price.

        2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Not just tech

          "Uh no, the big commercial guys would much prefer to buy parts off the shelf cheaply and hire a cheap mechanic or two to be on staff for preventative maintenance when not fixing the big stuff."

          Nope. JD's sales to large clients have gone up, not down. They've done their market research and got it right. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean you need to make up conspiracy theories about it.

          1. AlbertH

            Re: Not just tech

            Err... Not quite. Deere sales have collapsed in some territories. The advent of cheaper, equally efficient machinery from the Orient has ensured that their sales will disappear altogether eventually - there's now no reason (except for American jingoistic masochism) to buy the over-priced American kit.

  3. VoiceOfTruth

    The 1%

    Everyone else is a slave.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The 1%

      Yep, they just think they aren't.

      Suckers, every one of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 1%

        they all think they are the future 1%... (And apparently, when they "get their millions", they want to be equally selfish, so screw them)

        1. D@v3

          Re: The 1%

          The American approach to freedom seems to be more focused on MY freedom to do what I want, regardless of how that impacts YOUR freedom to do what YOU want.

          1. quxinot

            Re: The 1%

            Newp.

            The American approach to freedom is MY freedom to tell YOU what you're allowed to do.

            Sadly.

            And I'm not sure when that really happened, as it seems really common today with the modern public, but if I think back to childhood I can pick up examples regularly. Perhaps social media has just made it easier to see and recognize, as you don't have to go to the PTA meeting or whatever gathering to notice that attitude.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    What's that old saying?

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cory Doctorow on apple and right to repair

      Ooooh an apple fanboi downvoter!

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "died in committee" "despite broad consumer support"

    Why am I *NOT* SURPRISED! (voice of Gilbert Godfried as Iago the Parrot)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "died in committee" "despite broad consumer support"

      Don’t worry, the EU will sort it for you in a global supply chain/manufacturing sense.

      "The organizing around my bill and other efforts across the country have made it clear that these arguments don’t hold up with the consumers who are saddled with high cost repairs and premature replacements."

      … 34 other states with differing legislation on this is part of the wasteful bonkers obsession in the US with local legislation. This should be at the federal level, with one set of criteria.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge

        Re: "died in committee" "despite broad consumer support"

        You do have a point on the downsides of local legislation, but I counter-offer: will the current technological gatekeepers be able to bribe lobby all of them?

        It is a though akin to multiple small-claims court actions vs. a class-action suit; some may slip through, beginning a death of a thousand cuts; failing that, it will cost the gatekeepers a fair wad of cash.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: "died in committee" "despite broad consumer support"

          will the current technological gatekeepers be able to bribe lobby all of them?

          The answer is yes. From the Cory Doctorow article posted above:

          In 2018 — the year before Tim Cook warned his shareholders that their dividends were at risk because Apple customers were choosing to fix their gadgets, rather than replacing them — Apple led the anti-repair axis in fights against eighteen state Right to Repair bills. All eighteen bills died.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Died?

      It was murdered. Use the proper word :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

    If manufacturers had to pay for repairs on their products, their products would be designed and made more reliable.

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

      This is a very interesting idea...

      Cheers mate.

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

      Not necessarily. Manufacturers could find less expensive to change a device rather than fixing it, especially of the production cost is way lower than the final price for customers.

      The Right to Repair is also a way to limit continual production of new devices making the old ones garbage.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

        "Manufacturers could find less expensive to change a device rather than fixing it"

        They do. I had a $2000 high precision digital volt meter fail on me under warranty. The vendor just replaced it (the serial No. changed and a secret sticker I'd applied went missing so it was obvious). I finally found out what the fault had been - the display connector had become partially disconnected. So they might have just opened the case, pushed the connector back on, tested and recalibrated the kit. But it was obviously cheaper to just dump it and replace (unless of course they shelved it for use as a 'warranty' replacement for someone else).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

          "(unless of course they shelved it for use as a 'warranty' replacement for someone else)."

          That is very likely and not unusual, depending on manufacturer. As a field engineers, we get parts sent out from the OEM marked as "Factory Refurbished and Tested" as well as new parts. This is a large Asian OEM. On the other hand, simple fixes to some HP printers results in an entire module being sent out with a "Do NOT RETURN" label and what seems like a large and expensive item, eg an entire duplexer unit that only needs a couple of new plastic gears (info presented based on actual jobs done in the last two week)

      2. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

        Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

        >The Right to Repair is also a way to limit continual production of new devices making the old ones garbage.

        That is an interesting point with respect to environmental concerns. In the period of austerity following WW2, there was a general idea of "make do and mend". Very little was wasted. Now it has got to the stage with cheap fast fashion that some item of clothing might be worn only a few time before being dumped, and the industry encourages this, because it keeps the revenue churning.

        Though there are obviously fairly rapid advances in electronic technology that make older technology difficult to support, there must be an element of mere fashion in many of the changes that encourage new purchases. That is, some people like to show off their prosperity by displaying possession of the latest doodah, not because it is better, but just because it is new.

        As an old fuddy-duddy, I look back to the days when a mobile phone did its job of providing a phone connection anywhere, and had proper buttons for dialling, answering a call, and hanging up. Simples. I don't get on with touch screens, where you wonder what weird function you might activate by a slip of the finger.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

      "Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'. "

      In the EU most manufactured goods have a statutory warranty of 1 or 2 years, isn't that a thing in the States??

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

        EU mandates a two year warranty for non-business customers - but that may not cover things like batteries, because their wear depends on usage. Still most products will work for at least two years, it's what happen afterwards that matters.

      2. VicMortimer
        Flame

        Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

        No. That's not a thing here.

        There are product safety laws, if a product is dangerous the government can force a recall to fix it. Most products have a 90 day to 1 year warranty, very few warranties are longer than 1 year. Many companies offer an "extended warranty" (which is just very expensive insurance).

        And maybe you replace your phone every 2 years, but many of us do not do that and have no desire to. Mine is 6 now, and still works because Apple didn't block the parts I replaced like they do now. I also wasn't without my phone for more than the few minutes it took for me to put in the new battery and speaker.

        Right to repair is more important than a 'requirement to warranty' that only lasts 2 years.

      3. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: Instead of 'right to repair', manufacturers should have a 'requirement to warranty'.

        In The Netherlands the wareanty of a devuce is its expected lifetime.

        This means at least 5 years on devices like washing machines and dryers and 2 years on cell phones and laptops.

        You might need some legal insurance to enforce that with the vendor though.

  8. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

    Gordon-Byrne speculates that California lawmakers are worried about the cost of implementing the bill, in the form of lawsuits from product makers. "I think that people have been threatened with litigation," she said.

    Government fearing business. This is what 'corporations are people' and 'money is free speech' have brought.

    If the large corporations threaten with litigation you slap them down with multi-million dollar penalties. If they start litigating you freeze their accounts pending the outcome. They did that to people supporting canadian truckers.

    In civilised countries, the government has a monopoly on legally doling out violence. It's time they applied some to the corps instead of their citizens.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Where would their income come from ?

      To get elected to any senior political office in the US requires spending more in advertising than will be obtained in salary from that position. All US politicians (unless they are already part of the 1%) need sponsors to pay their campaign expenses. These sponsors expect to be repaid by the politicians passing laws that they like and blocking laws that they do not like.

      The US - the country with the best government that money can buy!!!

      Icon for what should happen to corrupt politicians (99%+ of them) =====>

      1. david 12 Silver badge

        Re: Where would their income come from ?

        >The US - the country with the best government that money can buy!!!<

        I realized that Americans regard that as a description rather than as a joke, when my professional association shut down their lobby group, with the explanation that it wasn't funded well enough to be effective.

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Government of the people, by the people, for the people

    Limitations may apply when suitable to the business.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Government of the people, by the people, for the people

      businesses are "people" too. :-/

      1. trublueprogressive

        Re: Government of the people, by the people, for the people

        My answer is "whenever a corporation commits a crime, who goes to jail? (I'm looking at you PG&E)"

  10. D@v3

    Not ALL tech companies

    As coincidence would have it, while i have been reading this, i have been working on a Dell laptop with a dodgy screen, made considerably easier by finding a 108 page service manual on their site.

    Which is in stark contrast to my first experience of Dell hardware, which was a desktop whose insides were covered in warranty void stickers.

    1. VicMortimer
      Megaphone

      Re: Not ALL tech companies

      Yeah, they got a bit of a smackdown from the FTC a few years back about those 'warranty void' stickers.

      https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/news/press-releases/2018/04/ftc-staff-warns-companies-it-illegal-condition-warranty-coverage-use-specified-parts-or-services

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As did Apple

        as well as their "moisture sensors" that would self-trip in places like the American south, Most islands, and large tracts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not ALL tech companies

      Or the first COMPAQ I ever opened to find that they were too cheap to provide a conventional CMOS for the BIOS and saved to the HDD.

      This was bad if you had an HDD failure, as there was no way to restore it without another working COMPAQ of the same model unless you were an COMPAQ authorized repair technician. They would happily show up in three to five working days, (WITHOUT a pre-formatted and imaged drive at 3x market rate) and charge by the hour and mile + airfare so it would be 75% of the replacement cost of the machine.

      It also had torx screws everywhere.

      We all have our stories about why these laws are needed.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for CA to do what they do best - citizen initiatives

    It's Cali.

    What the tech industry is about to get hit with will go farther than anything the legislature could have come up with. Depending on how pissed off people are, right to repair might even end up in the CA constitution.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_ballot_proposition

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Time for CA to do what they do best - citizen initiatives

      This bill was proposed precisely to stymie a citizen initiative. It was written in the 11th hour before the CI would have been submitted for ballot. The submitter agreed that the bill should do what was needed, and was better formed than their efforts, so they withdrew the CI.

      We all called that it would be killed in committee, because it was only proposed to stop the citizenry from taking matters into their own hands.

  12. vincent himpe

    they did it wrong

    They should have mentioned guns. Right to repair guns (and other stuff) . It would have passed in the blink of an eye

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: they did it wrong

      Not in CA, it wouldnt have.

  13. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Jeez, can't we just admit that, as everyone with half a brain keeps pointing out, the problem is not that you can't get spares or repair stuff yourself, it's that lots of things are too hard to repair for repairs to be reasonable. Microelectronics, just not worth the bother, for example. Motor windings, unless the broken wire is right on top. That kind of thing.

    Aside from that, anyone can design stuff to make it impossible to repair, even if people have a legal right to spare parts.

    But in practice, the idea stuff is unrepairable (economically) is almost always a myth. I fix stuff for a living. People routinely ask me to take a quick look at something everyone has told them should just be thrown away, and a few minutes' of my time is usually enough to fix it. Less often, a few minutes is all it takes to say 'nah, this one's borked'.

  14. Man inna barrel Bronze badge

    Evolution of electronic circuit construction technology

    I think it worth pointing out that my personal experience of how electronic circuits are constructed shows a steady movement away from putting chips in sockets, and towards soldering them directly to the PCB. As far as I know, much of the electronic service industry works on the basis of swapping out complete boards, rather than repairing at component level.

    In the 1980s, my designs were all through-hole, with no surface mount. CPU chips and ROM would be in sockets. Other ICs might also be in sockets. In those days, for embedded computing, you put the machine code in EEPROMs using an external programmer, and then plugged them in. We used Z80 systems quite a lot.

    Later, there were CPU chips with internal programme ROM. The ROM tended to come in two varieties: EEPROM that could be reprogrammed after UV erasing, and one time programmed (OTP). The EEPROM devices were quite expensive, and only used in development. The OTP devices were cheaper, and used in production. Obviously, if you wanted to upgrade firmware in an OTP device, you would have to replace the chip, which tended to mean that it was inserted in a socket.

    The movement towards surface mount technology meant most chips were not in sockets, but soldered straight to the board. The problem of firmware upgrades was fixed by having chips that are in circuit programmable. This means you can solder the CPU to the PCB, then erase and programme it multiple times via a header on the PCB. The PIC micros I use these days use a five pin header, and a fairly simple programmer, driven from USB. Some chips can have firmware directly loaded via USB. This is about where my designs are today. All IC sockets are gone.

    Though soldering chips to the PCB makes component level repairs more difficult than when you have chips in sockets, the kit to desolder chips can still be affordable. It is basically a hot air blower. A certain amount of that goes on in our production line. However, you have to consider whether it is worth taking the time to repair a board that might only be worth a few quid. Boards that fail production test are usually put on one side, then a skilled technician will do some kind of triage to select which boards look worth repairing, and glean a bit more out of the scrap. The production line is generally run on a right-first-time basis, to avoid adding to the scrap pile in the first place.

    Where things start to get difficult for component level repairs is with modern surface mount technology such as ball grid arrays (BGAs). As far as I know, a hand-held hot air blower will not really cope with desoldering such devices. You need special kit, which is expensive. I worked on a board with a BGA processor, and densely packed tiny components. It was not my design. The wrong type of RAM had been fitted, but replacing that ruined the BGA joints nearby, and the board was bricked. This was done via a contract manufacturer I have some respect for. They have the specialised kit, and even they could not do the job. Ever since then, I have avoided anything like a BGA in new designs. My colleague who does production engineering and quality control is in agreement on this. We could deal with BGAs if we had the X-ray inspection kit and so on, but as we don't have that now, no BGAs please.

    It could be that for some electronic kit, what people want is the right to swap out circuit boards, and not try to do component level repair. Manufacturers will tend to do servicing by swapping out whole boards, so consumers want to be able to buy spares and do that themselves. In that case, all this discussion of desoldering chips is not so relevant. However, this level of repair does mean that you are almost certainly tied to the original manufacturer when it comes to getting spares, because these boards are not generic components that you can buy anywhere. At present, I don't think manufacturers are legally obliged to sell spares to consumers, and maybe that is what Right to Repair is about.

    1. knottedhandkerchief

      Re: Evolution of electronic circuit construction technology

      A common problem in the 80s when chip sockets were common (eg for the BBC microcomputer) was the chips easing themselves out of the socket due to vibration. Of course, the solution was just to push them back down, but still, surface mounted is a lot more reliable.

    2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Evolution of electronic circuit construction technology

      Later, there were CPU chips with internal programme ROM. The ROM tended to come in two varieties: EEPROM that could be reprogrammed after UV erasing, and one time programmed (OTP).

      You are confusing EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory), for which you need UV with EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory), no UV needed.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Evolution of electronic circuit construction technology

      "I think it worth pointing out that my personal experience of how electronic circuits are constructed shows a steady movement away from putting chips in sockets, and towards soldering them directly to the PCB. As far as I know, much of the electronic service industry works on the basis of swapping out complete boards, rather than repairing at component level."

      The big reason for putting chips in sockets was cost and upgrading. Rather than putting the expensive chips on the board right away, it made more sense to test the board to make sure it worked properly and add those chips later. There are also easier ways now to program firmware in situ rather than putting an EPROM in a programmer.

      Board level repairs are useful in a field service environment where getting a piece of equipment back up and running as quickly as possible is the most important thing. It can be more efficient to have a dedicated testing rig at a depot that can pinpoint a component that has failed or narrow down possibilities much faster. It's also hard to drag around a whole lab worth of equipment in the boot of a car.

      Some companies are so paranoid that they think providing schematics is going to divulge trade secrets. This is lawyer-think since reverse engineering electronics isn't that hard when you are set up for it. Companies are out there that do nothing but and can x-ray chips to figure out what they are or even take them apart to examine under an electron microscope. I remember some classes I had where we were given a black box and had to figure out what was inside given some basic parameters.

      My first job after getting my degree was working at a company that was a contract repair station for musical instrument/sound system products. I'd worked previously as a roadie and for various local and national lighting and sound companies and one thing I noticed was that certain gear was very common. It wasn't because it was the best. It was good enough and could be repaired. Getting a schematic and parts from the OEM was no problem. They'd even overnight stuff to a hotel and worry about billing later if they knew you or the company you work for. So much kit is so similar that trying to keep something secret was useless. I thought at one point that I'd build my own graphic EQ as a project. After totting up the costs to buy the parts, I found it far better to buy one new. If I wanted to save money, I could get one second hand or try to find a broken one I could fix. The upshot is that gear that had the best support was the most prevalent. Since it was used in so many installations/rigs, it was a known quantity and sold well just through momentum.

  15. trublueprogressive

    In other news, NY passed their Right to Repair bill.

  16. Colin Bain

    Democracy ......

    ......For people by people who don't really want people to decide anything

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