If a personal computer is a computer that you have all to yourself, my first personal computer was a Hewlett-Packard 2114, which was assigned to me in 1970 when I was working at hp. It came with a form of onsite service; if anything broke, I’d either swap the new part in myself or call for a service tech.
If a personal computer is a machine that’s designed to be used by one or two people, my first personal computer was an Apple II, which I acquired in 1979. I never thought about what would happen if something broke; luckily, nothing ever did.
In the early eighties I had a procession of IBM PCs. If something broke, I’d fix it myself. By the late eighties, while I used real IBM computers at work, I routinely built the machines I’d use at home. It was fun to do, and it was easy to fix them, since I knew exactly what was in them. With the exception of a couple of Macs, I used homemade computers for most of the nineties.
About the turn of the millennium, I grew bored with computer construction, and would order the pieces and pay a vendor to assemble them. I’d still fix them myself; since they were assembled from industry standard parts, it was easy to get spares. After some flirtations with an Alien and Falcon, five or six years ago, I switched to Dell for desktops and servers. The upside of going with a big company like Dell was that the thermal design of the machines was far better than what I could do myself; the downside was that it was impractical for me to do repairs. Fortunately, Dell offered, and still offers, fast response onsite service at a reasonable price.
I’ve never liked the idea of taking your computer in to a store for repair, and leaving it while it’s being worked on. Aside from the hassle, I’m worried about privacy and integrity of my data. When you have onsite service, you see exactly what the tech is doing, and the machine is never out of your sight.
Of the four vendors whose machines I evaluated for my latest photo editing workstation, only Apple does not offer onsite service. I excluded the Mac Pro early on because I couldn’t get enough memory on a single-processor system, but the Mac servicing arrangements would have concerned me had it been in the running at the end.