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Best looking classic computers?


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#1 deadmeow OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:10 PM

What does everyone think about good looking computers? As far as style and looks, I think the old Mac Color Classic is the most attractive looking computer of them all. A nice little color screen in a classic Mac all in one tiny box design, with a nice Apple keyboard. There is/was someone on the web, who upgraded Mac Color Classics into PowerPC Macs. I bought one in the late 90's and early 2000, to play around with, and browsed the net with Netscape and all. My dream classic Mac is a Mac Color Classic with an Apple IIe card to run 8 bit Apple II software.

Other computers I like as far as design are; Apple IIgs(best keyboard of all time), Apple //c(a Tiny apple II!), and Atari 800 XL(nice looking design!) ;)

#2 Vic George 2K3 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:24 PM

I think the design of the Atari 400 is interesting in a sort of futuristic 80's computer toy kind of way.

#3 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:23 PM

What does everyone think about good looking computers? As far as style and looks, I think the old Mac Color Classic is the most attractive looking computer of them all.


I think all the old Macs are hideous! I did think the Apple Lisa (from which the original Mac took inspiration) was nice looking for its time, but I don't think it really holds up as a classic design now.

I have always loved the original TRS-80 Model 1. How cool is this? http://www.weller.to...cctani__01l.jpg

It's like something out of a 1950's sci-fi movie. It reminds me of the robot from "My Favorite Martian."

I also liked the Atari XL's, I agree with you on that one. I like those old computers that are kind of self-consciously trying to look futuristic. The TI 99-4/A is another one that's got that similar style.

Going just a little bit further into the future, I always thought the Atari ST's were beautiful machines. A lot sleeker than the otherwise similar Amiga 500 that they were competing with. I did also like the look of the Apple IIgs.

I owned an Apple //c but I always thought it was sort of ugly. I guess I have never really been a big fan of Steve Jobs' design sense when it comes to computers... the Apple machines that I like were generally not his projects.

Edited by spacecadet, Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:24 PM.


#4 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:33 PM

Let's see, I like:

Mac Classic - Nice compact design, sort of like an iMac but years earlier
Atari 800 - Large but very "80's computer" like
Atari Mega STE/TT - I like the case design, it's very elegant
TI-99/4a - An odd choice I know, but the brushed aluminum is very fancy looking (too bad it dents like mad)
Apple IIgs - Another very compact and nice looking computer. The fact that it looks excellent with a monitor on top of it is a huge plus

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#5 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:46 PM

The Commodore PET is the hands down winner for SCI-FI looks.

Some of the Euro computers like the early Speccy or Oric models were cute. The Atmos with it's Black and Orange keyboard was very striking.

The MC-10 was also cute as was the Matra Alice which was a modified MC-10 in a red case. The followup model with a full size keyboard had angled corners and looked like a museum piece.

The Ti99/4 looks pretty spiffy with the brushed aluminum.

The TRS-80 Models II,III and IV all looked very professional and neat.

The Atari 800 looked real slick.

I guess the IIgs looked pretty good too if you had the monitor to go with it.

Edited by JamesD, Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:57 PM.


#6 supercat OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:00 PM

I have always loved the original TRS-80 Model 1. How cool is this?


What was under the keyboard and what was under the monitor? The keyboard unit seems awfully thick if there wasn't anything inside it, but if the CPU is under the keyboard what's under the monitor?

#7 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:15 PM

I have always loved the original TRS-80 Model 1. How cool is this?


What was under the keyboard and what was under the monitor? The keyboard unit seems awfully thick if there wasn't anything inside it, but if the CPU is under the keyboard what's under the monitor?

First of all, that's not the regular monitor.
The part under the monitor is the expansion interface. It holds additional RAM, serial ports, cassette ports, parallel interface and disk interface.

The cable between the keyboard and expansion interface often had problems making proper connections and caused the computer to crash. Cleaning the edge connectors with an eraser would fix it but this is where the term Trash 80 came from. Technically the term only referred to that model but owners of other brands soon adopted it for all things TRS-80.

#8 JB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:41 PM

TI-99/4a - An odd choice I know, but the brushed aluminum is very fancy looking (too bad it dents like mad)

It's also easy to rip off if you catch the corner on your pants or something. Did that to one of mine.

#9 Crazy Climber OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:05 AM

I always dug the Commodore 1702 monitors, true it's not actually a computer but I always thought those monitors looked so cool that I'm using that as my answer. If that doesn't count then I would have to say the portable Commodore that looks like a briefcase, cant remember it's name but it looked cool :)

#10 supercat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:10 AM

The part under the monitor is the expansion interface. It holds additional RAM, serial ports, cassette ports, parallel interface and disk interface.

The cable between the keyboard and expansion interface often had problems making proper connections and caused the computer to crash.


So the processor is separated from the RAM via cable? Yeesh! Could the computer do anything useful without the expansion interface? Why not just put everything in the expansion box (other than the keyboard itself)?

#11 AtticGamer OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:00 AM

Commodore Amiga 500
Commodore 64C
Zx Spectrum 48K
Zx Spectrum +2
Mac Classic
Atari 400.

Edited by Atari_kid, Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:17 AM.


#12 JB OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:06 AM

So the processor is separated from the RAM via cable? Yeesh!

It happens on the 99/4a too. At least, if you have the PBox.
If you don't, the RAM is just in a brick on the side of the system... or on the side of a brick on the side of a brick on the side of the system.

The PBox is less ugly, though still troublesome(stiff cable + no fasteners on the connector = easy to dislodge).

#13 Clint Thompson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:57 AM

I think the ST is probably one of my favorites.

The Apricot had some really interesting looking computers!
http://old-computers....asp?st=1&c=495

#14 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:24 AM

So the processor is separated from the RAM via cable? Yeesh! Could the computer do anything useful without the expansion interface? Why not just put everything in the expansion box (other than the keyboard itself)?


Actually, the keyboard part came with 4K or 16K of RAM and the ROMs. It also had a cassette interface built in. The expansion interface brought it up to 32K or 48K.
Ah, Level 1 Basic, 4K RAM and a cassette interface. Who would ever need more? ;)
Star Trek III, V3.4, BASIC Trek at it's finest!

You have to remember the Model 1 was one of the first major commercial shots at a home computer and was released in something like 1977 or 1978. I know I first used one in 1979.

#15 Student Driver OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:59 AM

Oddly enough, I never thought the Apple computers were very attractive until the IIgs. I know the ][ was supposed to be a ground-breaking user-friendly "warm" design, but it seemed to me to be uglier than the concurrent Sol, OS Challenger, etc. (If I want a putty-colored CPU/keyboard combo unit with a thick backend, I'll go for an Atari 800.)And I've liked few of the Macs-- I like a balance of form and function, but in the last decade, form's won out too much for me.

I like the Commodore B-series computers.
Posted Image
The foreground machines are part of the B-series.

The Amigas and 128D are good as well.

Atari's XL and XE designs were also really nice; I was jealous of the 130XE look.

The Exidy Sorcerer:Posted Image

You have to love the boldness of the Imsai 8080:Posted Image

And I wish I had a scanner, or could find a picture online of "The System," a 6809-based CPU/keyboard combo from MicroDaSys. It has the design sensibility of a '60s IBM Selectric typewriter, and is one of the first computers to use cartridges. (A photo I have in one book shows it loaded with BASIC and Space War carts!)

#16 deadmeow OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:03 AM

It seems I biased the post with the mention of the TI994a. Speaking of Apricot, I remember seeing these at the computer store where I bought my Apple IIe. Those were nice looking machines.

#17 Ross PK OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:22 AM

800XL hands down.

#18 christianscott27 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:06 AM

I used to be radio shack mall rat so I had it bad for one of these portables

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#19 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:15 AM

The PBox is less ugly, though still troublesome(stiff cable + no fasteners on the connector = easy to dislodge).


Tell me about it. It doesn't help that the connector is the size of a 2600 cart and has the thickest ribbon cable I've ever seen coming out of it (no wonder they call it the firehose). I'm dislodging it all the time, thankfully it doesn't seem to hurt anything unless the PEB is actually in use at that moment.

The PEB is nice because it provides a convienient place to put your monitor. Otherwise it looks like a metal brick. The Atari 1090 looks so much nicer (shame it never came out).

My TI got dented after I dropped a monitor on it (oops). The PEB got scratched just by putting the monitor on top of it. I thought they were tougher than that?

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#20 jbanes OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:10 AM

Do NeXT Cubes count? :ponder:

Posted Image

Otherwise I have a hard time thinking of any classic computers as "good looking". They were built according to their functionality, and weren't anywhere near as sleek as they can make electronics today. Of course, I preferred them that way, but they weren't exactly a decorative piece for a mansion. :P

#21 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:33 PM

I didn't find the Exidy Sorcerer that attractive myself but I wouldn't give it an ugly award either. It would earn the "my cartridges look like 8 track tapes" award!

BTW, I think the CDTV was one of the best looking machines made now that I think about it.

The Tandy Color Computer Multipack interface was another expansion box that you could have connection issues with. If you bumped the computer so it twisted you could break the connection. A Coco with a multipack and a bunch of long carts plugged in wasn't exactly a pretty sight either.

#22 Vic George 2K3 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:36 PM

I remember those Radio Shack pocket-sized computers. They're interesting if somewhat limited with what you can do with those things.

#23 joeybastard OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 1:54 PM

If we're ignoring functionality and just going on looks, I like the sci-fi gigantor look of something like this. I don't know what kind of machine it is but it sure is cool looking.

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#24 MCHufnagel OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:03 PM

If we're ignoring functionality and just going on looks, I like the sci-fi gigantor look of something like this. I don't know what kind of machine it is but it sure is cool looking.

Ah, I remember those days. Oh you weren't talking about the mini-skirt? :lust:

#25 joeybastard OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:14 PM

Ah, I remember those days. Oh you weren't talking about the mini-skirt? :lust:


According to the fashion show we produce they are making a comeback this spring. Hooker shoes will be popular too so it should be an interesting year if that show is correct.




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