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First post, by Intel486dx33

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From the 1980’s thru the 2010.

Many old computer where “NOISY”
Loud fans that lacked bearings or lubrication.
Loud floppy drives, mechanisms that lacked lubrication.
Noisy CDROM drives.
Loud CPU fans
Loud PSU fans.

IBM stands for International Business machine.

A computer is a “Machine”.
Or at least it was at one time a mechanical machine.

Machine noise is how it identifies itself.
You could ask IBM A.I. Watson to identify a computer component by sound it probably could.

So why are people so addicted to the sounds of old computers ?
When it is computer noise.

When I worked in computers we use to setup class rooms full of workstations and servers.
And they where very loud computers back in 1990’s
With hard drives that wold make a terrible whining noise and loud fans.

Imagine classrooms full of these computers. An then imagine being the instructor trying to teach students in a loud noisy classroom.
Those poor students. They would spend a week for 8 hours a day in these classrooms.
Many became burnt out after a week of instructions and in loud noisy classrooms did not help either.

The whining hard drives with platters and arms that are like the foot of a crazy chicken.
A crazy chicken scratches at the earth looking for food.
That is what the arm of the hard drive appears to simulate.
The ticking sounds of old hard-drives.
Back in the 1980’s chicken scratch pop music was popular.
Hip Hop and Freestyle music.

It was all about the CRAZY chicken.

If there is one thing I hated about that era was the loud noise computers.

Once I was at work and they told me to go into the server room so I could not hear what they where talking about
Because the server room was loud and noisy.

A room full of noisy computers will drive you crazy.

As computers and machinery become more advanced they become quieter and silent.

What do you think?
Why where old computer designed to be loud ?
Was it an engineering flaw or designed to be that way ?

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Reply 2 of 12, by cyclone3d

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Hah... They were noisy because that is what they had to work with back then.

Fans without bearings? Really? They had bearings. Maybe the low-end ones didn't have ball-bearings, but even then they at least had sleeve bearings which a lot of fans are still sleeve bearing fans even if they are "hybrid" or whatever fancy name they want to give them now.

The best fans still have ball-bearings though.

And, when new, the fan motors were quiet. It was just the hum of the motor and from the air turbulence causing the noise. The bearings themselves were nothing noise-wise until they wore out and needed replacing.

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Reply 4 of 12, by imi

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hey, remember when 120mm fans were mostly 38mm thick and pretty much exclusively for industrial use?

...yeah I used one of these in my modded case... also had a Vantec Tornado 92x38mm fan on my Swiftech MCX462+ ...ah good times, when power was still measured in noise :3

Reply 5 of 12, by cyclone3d

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-04-12, 05:43:

It was not just the fans but the terrible whining noise the old worn hard drives use to make. Especially the SCSI hard-drives.

Yeah.. the bearings in the drives would start to make noise as well.

Still doesn't mean they were designed to do that though.

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Reply 6 of 12, by Intel486dx33

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Listen to music.
Listen to MIDI files.
Listen to the sounds of nature. ( Birds, animals, wind, leaves, trees, water, humans ).

Turn everything off and listen.

It is a soothing sound to the human ears and to Animals too.

I was once working in San Francisco financial district for a large company.
I use to take the BART ( Bay Area Rapid Transit ) to work ( An Electric Metro train ).
It makes the most awful noise. The whining of the electric motors and the screeching of the metal wheels as it rides on the iron tracks.
The noise is not natural and just awful when you pay close attention to it.

So One day I was on the train on my way to work. The train line goes under the bay waters in a tube.
And suddenly the train stopped.
We were left stranded under the bay waters for about an hour.
The train line had power but the power had gone out in San Francisco, Complete black out.
It was about 8am.
The train stations in San Francisco were down with no power.
The gates and escalators were not working either.
They did not want to let us off the train until they got power in the stations working again.
But they could not. So the train finally took us to the San Francisco train station and let us off.
Everything was down with no power. We had to take the stairs up to the top level
Where the streets are. As we where in an underground station.
As I walk onto the streets all you could hear was police sirens.
It was as if the city was under attack by terrorist.
All the buildings were closed, everyone was lock out because of no electricity.
So many people who did not live in San Francisco but just commute there for work had no way to get back home.
So people where just walking in the streets not knowing what to do.
No where to go as everything was closed and no transportation as it was all down. Except for gas powered vehicles.

It was very “Erie”.
You could actually hear the birds.
Much like to today also I saw on the news because of COVID-19 and the lockdown
You can hear the birds again.
Because there is minimal traffic.

So the power did not come back on until later that afternoon.
So people were finally able to get back home.

But it was very strange experience to experience a large city like San Francisco with NO electricity.
That must have been what it was like back before the 1930’s.

So what I am saying is these machines have there own identity and each makes it’s own unique sounds.
That is how we humans with ears can identify it.

Can you tell the difference between an IBM hard-drive and an other ?
if you listen to them long enough I bet you can.

Or tell the difference between different computers models. I bet you can if you listen to them long enough.

Do you think the engineers who designed these computers knew this and put there own unique sounds into
There components ?

Reply 7 of 12, by cyclone3d

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No they didn't design them to have specific sounds. That would be stupid.. plain and simple.

They designed them to do what they needed to do. The specific sound just had to do with what specific parts they used... and they weren't based on how they sounded... except maybe for the sound cards.

I've been building and working on PCs for nearly 30 years now. Laptops for around 20 years. You use the parts you need for what you want to do with the computer... specific sounds have nothing to do with it. The only thing that comes into play noise-wise it using fans that are quiet if possible. And even that is a fairly recent thing. up till about 10-15 years ago, people with high performance PCs didn't care if the fans were loud.. just crank up the volume higher to drown the fan noise out.

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Reply 8 of 12, by kolderman

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Because IBM. And miniaturization (why hdds became less noisy).

Interestingly Steve Jobs knew all about noise which is why he insisted on removing fans from the design of the original Mac when he took over development.

Reply 9 of 12, by Tertz

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-04-12, 02:31:

As computers and machinery become more advanced they become quieter and silent.

There are formal medical standards about safe level of noise at working places. Also there are personal tastes and preferences. There is nothing more. They want to have more performance and meanwhile cheaper - this leads to higher speed of fans and meanwhile simpler noiser mechanical parts.
There are lesser common situations. Silence is more important at home where people want to rest and where is low level of background noises compared to offices, factories. It's also important for costy performance systems where can be used more expensive and sometimes quiter mechanical parts.

PC could became quiter where they reduced the speed of performance developing. After a time same performance needs lesser energy and hence lesser cooling.
For example. I used PC until some years ago. For my current home needs is enough a not expensive notebook, which is connected to external monitor and keyboard/mouse. It's quiet, takes low energy, has inner UPS. Mostly it is for office like tasks, video/audio, Internet. Only for games, especially modern ones, would be useful to have normal PC. The similar should be with offices.
There are no loud disk drives as FD and CD in frequent usage, but exist louder and quiter HDD still.

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Reply 10 of 12, by Almoststew1990

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I hate noisy computers old and new. Noise is the biggest factor in whether a system I have built is considered a usable daily retro PC.

I tend to modernise my systems as much as possible to remove noise. New PSUs, Noctua fans (or at least using their speed control adapters on other fans), SSDs and CD cards...

I have a passive 450MHz Slot 1 P3 that I run at 333MHz that does DOS gaming duties, silently. I have an 800MHz VIA C3 passive SoC thing that gets involved too. I have put a new fan on my 650MHz (running at 828MHz) P3 so windows 98 gaming is very quiet.

My modern PC has an H100i (getting on for 7 years old I think... Eek) because a 140mm air cooler was too loud for my hot 3700X - as in it needed to spin up quite a lot to keep it under control (it's pretty quiet on other less volcanic systems) I think the fans in my 1070ti stop when not gaming. This PC is basically silent on the desktop (but does get loud when gaming).

Ryzen 3700X | 16GB 3600MHz RAM | AMD 6800XT | 2Tb NVME SSD | Windows 10
AMD DX2-80 | 16MB RAM | STB LIghtspeed 128 | AWE32 CT3910
I have a vacancy for a main Windows 98 PC

Reply 11 of 12, by Intel486dx33

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Well, I had this HP Kayak computer that I think was for people with hearing impairments or loud environments.
Because it beeped when turn on and standard error code beeps but it also had an LCD Display that would display a “Happy face”
When it was running correctly. Allot like a Macintosh does too.

As humans our sensors are our ears, eyes, smell, and touch.

The computers give us indications that it is running correctly or beginning to fail by making loud noises.
NOISE = Chaos
Noise = wear and tear on the mechanical component. Friction and rubbing and scraping.

So I do think computer manufactures selected components not only by performance but by what amount of noise they where willing to tolerate.

Anyways, I alway take apart all my old components and clean and ad lubricants when ever I can.
I want them to run smoothly with as little friction and wear and as quiet as possible.
I don’t want to hear the hardware working. I want to hear the games and music.