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You are right, John, that the tendency these days is more and more toward toss-and-replace instead of repair/reuse.

Example: fifteen years ago, a LaserJet printer designed as a personal printer was priced around $600. It was expensive because HP made them well. They lasted, too. And, they were printers which could be repaired. I have one in my office which is roughly ten years old.

Today, the LaserJet which fits the same niche in HP's line costs about $270, prints about three times as fast as did the old personal printer, and has an expected life of maybe three years. The expectation is that people will throw them away (we can hope that means with proper environmentally friendly disposal) because buying a new one at $270 makes a ton more economic sense than spending $250 or more repairing the old one.

It's reflected in the small businesses we see today, too. I'm sure you remember, John, how many little one-man shops existed 40 years ago, all with their own specialty. TV and radio repair, vacuum repair, lawnmower repair, small-appliance repair, and so on. How many are still around today? I marveled for years at the tenacity of one man who had a hole-in-the-wall little TV and VCR repair business at one end of a strip mall which I could see from the street as I drove by.

Last week, his store was gone, the "TV REPAIR" sign removed from the front window where it had been taped up for as long as I can remember--at least twenty years.


FYI ... we still have two TV repair places in Salida, pop. <6,000. I have to say I thought the one was out of business years ago, but it's still in the yellow pages. But Dick's Electronics we've used a couple times. Less than a hunnerd bucks each fixed a couple of big TVs good as new. He advertises VCR/DVD repair, too, which is hard to believe. Dick's a nice guy, though. Little house. Workshop in the front room. Carpet everywhere to catch little parts. Now if we only had a typewriter repair shop.

john ptak

Thanks to Jeff and Rick for their thoughts on the passing of eras. I've noticed that any decent electrical thing with a moving part will cost at least $250 to repair, no matter what it is. (Now that I've seen how the repairman replaced the belt around the drum of my dryer I to can do that 250 dollar deal for 28 fifty.)
And speaking of typewriters, here's a terrific obituary of a famous typewriter repair man: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05EEDB1139F932A35751C1A963958260

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