Just a few decades ago, computers were few and far between. The oldest of the millennials might one day describe to their grandchildren what it was like to not have access to the internet! PCs (personal computers) didn’t really appear in American homes until the late 1980s. Then, when the internet became popular, towards the late 90s and early 2000s, computers became normal household fixtures.
With the rise of computers in American homes came the rise of computer repair technicians. Businesses and people both began to see the need for computer repair shops as their devices began to break.
How it All Started
We might say computer repair began in the late 70s, long before computers were common, but after several companies started to produce computers for business use. If you owned or used a computer in the 60s or early 70s, chances are you were knowledgeable about your device, so when problems happened, you’d be capable of troubleshooting their issues on their own.
But as more of the general public came into contact with computers, hardware and software problems cropped up that the typical “computer civilian” couldn’t tackle, creating the demand for computer repair in the late 70s and after.
Two types of computer repair began to materialize:
- OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) companies that produce computers and fix them as well. For example, take Dell – this company both manufactures computers and fixes them. To get a computer fixed at an OEM, customers typically have to mail their devices to the OEM repair location which can be both a time and money investment.
- Third-party repair shops that only perform repair services. There are nationwide services like the Geek Squad or Staples, and local repair shops that you can find in your neighborhood. These repair shops are typically cheaper to use and more convenient, and many offer warranties of their own as their promise that you’ll get good service.
As more and more computers were produced, more third-party repair shops cropped up.
In the 1980s and 1990s, computer sales shot through the roof and the repair industry grew and thrived. To put it into perspective:
Less than 2,000 computer units were sold in 1960. Meanwhile, 7 million computer units had been sold by 1990.
Things That Affected the Computer Repair Industry
Although the computer repair industry continued to grow through the 90s, manufacturing computers became easier and cheaper, which meant that they became less expensive for consumers. A computer that might have been repaired a decade ago might now just get tossed for a newer model.
Despite the fact that computers have become more disposable, other issues made computer repair important and necessary. For example, customers needed help networking thanks to the popularity of the internet.
And another result of the internet was an influx of malware and computer viruses. A computer owner would be less likely to just purchase a new device because it won’t connect to a network properly, or because their device has suffered from infection by malicious software or computer viruses.
“Tweaking” computers became popular too, with customers requesting personalized setups or even just new, exotic operating systems installed on their devices.
Another aspect that increased the need for computer repairs was the need for small businesses to have working websites. A number of computer repair companies also offer web development and design.
Finally, the introduction of smartphones changed the computer repair industry forever. These small gadgets grew massively in popularity and most repair shops will offer iPhone repair, Android repair, Blackberry repair, and Windows Phone repair as well.
Tablets are also commonly fixed in third-party repair shops as well. Nowadays, you can find a local repair shop in almost every city in America, and many stores can fix most hardware and software issues, restore and rescue data, save infected computers and laptops, help people connect to the internet, and assist with personal computing projects and personalized setups.
The computer repair industry has undergone a lot of changes and growth in the past so where will it be in the future? Chances are it will just grow even more and these companies will probably begin to fix more technological devices and expand their services.
The introduction of the 5G data network will likely change the computer repair industry, as well as the rising complexity of technological devices. With all of the changes the computer repair industry has gone through, only one thing can be said for certain. Until they make a device that is indestructible, computer repair is here to stay.