Your daily dose of seldom-used tech trivia: Checking out the specs on the new iMacs, noticed a one-liner at the bottom of the Electrical and environmental requirements:
Maximum Altitude: 10,000 Feet
Not sure whether this is new to the new iMacs – I’ve just never noticed the stipulation before. So… what computer components are altitude-sensitive? Floated this question to a mailing list I’m on and got back some good theories, such as the fact that thinner air doesn’t circulate as well, and therefore lacks the cooling power of air at lower altitudes. Another respondent noted that mountaineers scaling Everest had purchased multiple iPods to find one that kept working all the way to the top (apparently some do, others don’t).
Found the most plausible explanation in a thread at Metafilter:
Specifically, the altitude concern is for the operation of the hard drive. Above a certain altitude, the low air pressure will allow the drive’s heads to scrape against the platters when in use, resulting in physical damage and data loss.
Larn something every day…