Many early PCs had an IEC-type 240V outlet socket on the back of
the box that was switched by the PC’s own on/off switch. This allowed you to
automatically switch power to the computer’s monitor, printer and other
peripherals when the PC itself was switched on or off.
Fig.1: how the unit is used. All peripherals plus the monitor are plugged into the power distribution board. Note that a USB keyboard or mouse must be connected to the USB Switch if you are using a desktop PC.
All you had to do was plug a power distribution board into this
outlet and then plug the peripherals into this board. The power switch on the
front of the PC then controlled everything – all very neat and convenient.
Unfortunately, this handy switched power outlet disappeared
when the PC manufacturers changed over to software-controlled power supplies. So
with most newer PCs, you’re now forced to use a power distribution board with
its own master power switch, if you want to control all your peripherals with a
Of course, that means you have to remember to manually switch
on the peripherals when you switch on your PC and vice versa. And that can be a
real nuisance. If you forget to turn the peripherals on, the computer won’t
recognise the monitor or any USB peripherals when it boots and may have to be
Apart from that, having to manually switch everything on and
off at the wall socket can be a real nuisance. Not only that, it can also be
impractical if the wall socket is inaccessible because it’s hidden behind a desk
or some other piece of furniture.