HR Strange But True!
June 03, 2005

The noise drives some people crazy. It has also driven them to launch a new movement: "quiet computing."

The Wall Street Journal reports that computer hum, long an afterthought in the performance-obsessed world of technology, has become Topic A for the quiet computing movement.

The noise from a standard desktop computer registers only about 30 to 35 decibels, roughly the level of a whisper. But for some, it's a cacophony that must be muffled.

"When I go visit other people, it drives me nuts," computer programmer Isaac Kuo tells the Journal. "I can always tell where the computer is unless it is turned off." He keeps his annoyance to himself, though: "I've long since discovered not to even bring it up with any friends, because they just don't care."

Not so with fellow sufferer Carl Bohne, who decided to act. Bothered by a noisy PC a few years ago, he took it apart to figure out what was causing the clamor. Now, at his home in St. Louis, he makes a hobby of building quiet machines. His computers are packed with foam insulation, noise-damping filters, and custom-sculpted hunks of copper that divert heat from the microcircuitry so the built-in fans won't have to work so hard.

The major computer manufacturers have also become interested in quiet computing, according to the Journal. For instance, Apple Computer Inc. markets its new Mac mini as "whisper-quiet."

Tomas Risberg, a Stockholm neurologist, described computer noise as "a freedom issue" for the Journal, asking, "(Why) should I have to listen to something I don't want to listen to?"

Does he feel the same way about co-workers?

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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