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bluejay

What do you think is the best/ugliest looking 80s computer?

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3 minutes ago, bluejay said:

The prototype I dreamt of is the XE portable. For some reason, I really, really like luggables, and the idea of an XE luggable with an amber crt and built in 5.25" floppy drive following that gray XE color scheme? I wish it was released.

never knew about that one, I'll have to look it up.

 

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23 hours ago, gladders said:

Ugliest...probably the TI99, because it's not symmetrical.

Dude, those are fighting words! 😉

How can you not appreciate that sleek black and aluminum trim?

 

ti.thumb.jpg.91521d8436aaf3472fd165775539b61d.jpg

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On 3/27/2020 at 11:31 AM, krslam said:

I always liked the sleek look of the Commodore 8032SK, the so-called porsche design:

Dominic Pajak on Twitter: "Beautiful design: Commodore PET SK ...

 

and the similar B128:

image.jpeg.78d47fa41c0d055bc3f93d7d1c910cbc.jpeg

The prototype PET had a similar rounded design which did not survive to production.

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4 hours ago, ClausB said:

The prototype PET had a similar rounded design which did not survive to production.

Good reminder - I had forgotten about that.  It does look better than the production PET 2001 (which looks like something you'd expect from a company that made file cabinets), but it'd be disqualified from this thread anyways for not being an '80s computer. 

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10 hours ago, ClausB said:

The prototype PET had a similar rounded design which did not survive to production.

I absolutely love the Porsche style PETs.

Speaking of PETs, doesn't the Tandy 200's design kinds remind you of the PET? Anyways, I know you guys are all sick of me talking about the Tandy 200, but I think it's pretty handsome.

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8 hours ago, bluejay said:

I absolutely love the Porsche style PETs.

Speaking of PETs, doesn't the Tandy 200's design kinds remind you of the PET? Anyways, I know you guys are all sick of me talking about the Tandy 200, but I think it's pretty handsome.

I'm a fan of the Tandy 200, myself, but I'm afraid I don't see any resemblance to a PET.

 

Did you know Commodore made a prototype of a Tandy 200 style machine, the Commodore LCD? You can see similarities to both the 64C case and the plus/4 keyboard in the design.

commodore_lcd_1s.jpg

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I think the C128 was the best looking 8-bit and still holds up today in design.

 

Also like the look of th silver TI99/4A and the Atari 800XL.

 

Going back to the 70s - I dig that blue Sol-20.   I've only seen pictures of it online though.

 

Ugliest?  Maybe Coleco Adam just for the real estate it takes up. 

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46 minutes ago, TemplarXB said:

Going back to the 70s - I dig that blue Sol-20.   I've only seen pictures of it online though.

I totally forgot about the Sol! Looks kinda wack but really cool at the same time.

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In hindsight I think most 80's computers are pretty good looking. But I do remember having some pretty strong opinions the other way *at the time*, which I'd maybe argue is more relevant. Everything looks better with rose-colored nostalgia. So here's what I remember thinking as a teenager in the 80's:

 

Not technically a 1980's computer although it was sold at least through 1983, I thought the Atari 400 just looked like they forgot to put a keyboard in:

 

81b69Drd97L._AC_.thumb.jpg.d71037ea0024999fa0e66fa86026d80d.jpg

 

It's like somebody put a template of a keyboard in but then they forgot to put the actual keyboard there before shipping it.
 

The Timex Sinclair 1000 was barely a computer, in either function or form:

 

ts1000.thumb.jpg.a2c5cf2056fbc39e3674bcd1e85d66f6.jpg

 

The original MacIntosh I think looks like a Fisher Price toy, and I say that as a diehard Apple II guy:

 

macintoshsystem.thumb.jpg.5d94810d11854e105f43eb7dca862972.jpg

 

It just screams out "My First Computer", which I guess is part of the point, but even as a kid I thought it looked totally dumb. It's small but it's just so chunky, which is the worst possible combination. I still feel the same way about it as I did when it was released.

 

As far as the ones I thought looked the best, how about this for turnabout - the design that inspired the original Mac:

 

2C13qClTJaJlXFbT.thumb.jpg.903b43f33acfe590d6077b89be5ca6d4.jpg

 

I honestly think that the fact that the Lisa is physically bigger than the Mac makes a world of difference. It just goes to show that you can't just chop off half a computer but leave the design otherwise mostly untouched and expect it to still look right. First, the keyboard doesn't look so chunky when stretched out with a numpad. And the extra space on the side with the grille and the drive slot gives it a more retro-futuristic appearance, like something you'd see in the Jetsons or 2001: A Space Odyssey. It also wasn't quite as beige as the Mac; the color was a bit more pleasing. I *really* wanted a Lisa at the time they came out; I didn't know what I would do with one but I just thought it looked cool.

 

I also really liked the Atari 520ST... I think the original 520 looks better than the 1040 or all later variants:

 

1920px-Atari-520ST.thumb.jpg.edc5a39991e0816b5b02084b39bceecd.jpg

 

It's just a bit better proportioned, without too much "back". (I feel the same way about the 800XL vs. the 1200XL; the 600XL is a little too "short" in the back.) It's also super-sleek and futuristic and just has a really coherent design. The XE models that were based on this design language I felt looked like cheap knockoffs. I do also think this design has aged really well - this computer still looks sleek even by modern standards, whereas most other computers of the era definitely look "retro".

 

And I know it's already been on one or two peoples' "ugly" lists, but for me the original IBM PC is in the other category:

 

ibm5150.jpg.167b9ef917b6b6bda0989a07b14ca92b.jpg

 

To me, especially at that time but even now to some extent, this is what a "professional" computer looked like. Even as a kid, I just instantly associated this look with something people would use to get serious stuff done, rather than hobbyists sitting around typing out simple BASIC programs for fun or playing equally simple games at home. Today I think it's a classic design. It's definitely "retro" but it's also iconic and instantly recognizable as the form factor we pretty much still use, with a separate keyboard, monitor and computing section with integrated drives and whatever else. IBM wasn't the first to do this, but they did it best and they popularized the form.

 

The PC is also just BIG. That doesn't come across in pics, obviously (all these are resized, and not to scale), or even videos where you don't see it set against another computer. It is as big as any modern desktop computer. It's imposing in real life; it looks like it eats other computers. And there's way more metal in it than any other computer I can think of from that time. Only the front bezels, switches/knobs and keyboard keys are plastic. It's a tank, and it looks like one.

 

Much as I'm an Apple II guy, I don't think I'd really put any Apple IIs on my list of either ugliest or best looking designs. They're all kind of in the middle. I did think the IIc looked pretty slick when it was introduced, but its sleekness was pretty quickly outdone by the likes of the Atari ST and some others. I do at least still think it's kind of cute with its matching green monitor (something I wished it wasn't at the time, but now like):

 

appleiic.jpg.5c4a63317fdd8e316cc12ae61999abe7.jpg

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16 hours ago, spacecadet said:

I also really liked the Atari 520ST... I think the original 520 looks better than the 1040 or all later variants:

I agree the 520ST looked better, but the convenience of having internal floppy and TOS on ROM in later models make them more appealing than the original 520.   But I would also rank the Mega ST's above the 520, they looked better and had a nicer keyboard.

 

 

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The TS-1000 is pretty blah lookin, but the original Sinclair ZX-80 looked pretty cool in white with the blue keyboard... even if it's not as good as the TS-1000.
A computer not as good as a TS-1000.  LOL


 

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4 hours ago, JamesD said:

The TS-1000 is pretty blah lookin, but the original Sinclair ZX-80 looked pretty cool in white with the blue keyboard... even if it's not as good as the TS-1000.
A computer not as good as a TS-1000.  LOL


 

TS computers got worse and worse looking after every model IMO. The ZX80 is cool, the ZX81(TS1000) is eh, the TS1500 is eww, and the TS2068 is blech.

Edited by bluejay

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Have to disagree with you there, as I kinda like the look of the 1500 & 2068.  The TS1000 looks more like one of those oversized universal remotes than a computer.

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Personally, my favorite looking computers from days gone by are the ZX Spectrum 128, Atari STE, Tandy CoCo 3, and Amstrad CPC 464.  As far as ugly ones, I don't like the look of the Apple II line minus the Bell and Howell and C models.  Also, the Oric 1, Mattel Aquarius, and Coleco Adam are not pleasant on the eyes for me either.

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Lisa, without a doubt - though I also like the look of the atari mega units that have the separate box for the cpu and drive.. TT030 too.

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20 hours ago, doctor_x said:

Lisa, without a doubt - though I also like the look of the atari mega units that have the separate box for the cpu and drive.. TT030 too.

I always thought the fat macs looked better than the lisa, because they're less fat.

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On 4/17/2020 at 8:09 AM, krslam said:

Have to disagree with you there, as I kinda like the look of the 1500 & 2068.  The TS1000 looks more like one of those oversized universal remotes than a computer.

I thought those two machines were okay.  There were other reasons to dislike them, starting with but not limited to the keyboards.

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1 hour ago, JamesD said:

I thought those two machines were okay.  There were other reasons to dislike them, starting with but not limited to the keyboards.

Oh, absolutely. As computers they're fairly useless, but this thread is about looks.

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Guest

Hmmm. From a UK centric perspective I'd say the 64 looked pretty good.

The spectrum's keyboard was awful but looks ok. I always thought that the Amstrad CPC keyboards looked horrible for the different coloured keys and the omnipresent green monitors but now I quite like the look of the CPC.
 

I like the look of the Atari 800 XL and I'm not sure about the round pastel colour buttons of the XE Game System. 

 

The straight 800 reminds me of a typewriter (or old word processor) for some reason.

 

My favourite of all classic computers is the Amiga A600. It is lovely and compact. It is streamlined and beautiful.

 

It's been 28 years and I still think it is wonderful to look at today. 

 

 

s-l1600 (23).jpg

medium_2008_5082.jpg

Edited by Guest
Game System

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