Re: P.C's dont' really burn - Do they?
I'm sure I've posted this before, but it's worth a repeat. Back in the early '00s, we had a cash-strapped customer that wanted another terminal on their accounts system. They mostly had fancy but dumb terminals but for this one we did a deal and put in a PC. Nothing special needed, it just booted the terminal emulator from a DOS floppy, so somebody dragged an old 486 board out of the heap, slung it in a new case with a meg of ram and a floppy drive. Job done.
It could only have been a couple of days later, we got a paniced 'phone call. "The computer has exploded!" and it wasn't working any more. So myself and a colleague went off to look, chuckling about customer over-reactions.
When we got there, the case, a mini tower, had, fairly typically, been installed on the floor under the desk, right by the knees of the girl who was using it. On the carpet in front of it were the power/reset buttons, the front of the floppy drive, and the blanking plates from the 5.25" bays. We cautiously pulled it out and the back panel, where the expansion slots were, was visibly bowed outwards.
By now we were somewhat less jovial, so we pulled it back to the office before investigating further.
Once we pulled the lid off, we found the problem. This old 486 board had its cmos battery backup in an AA sized box on a flying lead, cable-tied to the chassis. Whomever assembled this had connected it backwards.
Two days of being reverse charged, and the battery had had enough, and exploded violently. Violently enough that bits of the plastic box encasing it had punched holes in the ribbon cable to the floppy. The only trace of the battery itself was the nasty acidic film that coated everything inside the box, eating away at anything metallic.
I don't think we were able to salvage anything from that machine, even the case was a mess!
I just pity the poor girl who had her legs next to this thing when it went off. She certainly didn't deserve the laughter we had over the "explosion", before we saw it!