These days, the computers we buy and use just work. Granted, they may not work well all the time, but they really do, on a whole, exactly what we want them to do, and without much issue. For those of us who do upgrade our machines, the process is mostly trivial – we just shove the expansion card into the slot, and off we go. Such has been the way of computing for the past 20 years, but it wasn’t always that way. Plug and Play, introduced in the mid 90’s changed all that.
Today we take for granted the fact that such is so easy; for the first decade and a half of PC’s existence, configuring new accessories to our machines we an incredible chore that took skill and time. There was no USB back then, there were no methods of automatic hardware detection, no driver and install wizards. You had to do everything yourself which even a user like I would never want to go back to doing.
Indeed, today, most users are happier with a laptop computer, with minimal upgrade opportunities, or with some kind of tablet computer, which has effectively no upgrade or expansion capacity on the hardware side. Still, for those who make use of standard computers, upgrades are a great way to increase the usability of your current machine instead of having to purchase a new one.
That all being said, enjoy this Computer Chronicles episode on Plug and Play, the standard which helped Windows 95 take over the computer world and helped make computer ownership easier for everyone 20 years ago.