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Have you ever wondered...

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...about computer case colors (the color of the housing for your computer)?  Probably not...but it is actually a rather interesting if nerdy, subject.

 

For the first several decades of their existence, consumer electronics used wooden cases (radios, TVs, console stereo systems).  In the 1960s, manufacturers started using metal cases, but continued with faux wood tone on the outside until the late 1970s. Starting the late 1970s, consumer electronics switched to a more „industrial“ look, using silver-colored metal cases, then switching to black.  Over the past 50 years, consumer electronics manufacturers have switched every few years - silver, then black, then silver, then black, etc.

 

Computers were always considered to be „industrial“ devices.  Starting in the halcyon days of the mainframe and minicomputer, computer cases were always a variant of gray.  The first personal computers followed this trend.

 

The case color for the Apple II was called „Sand“.  IBM used a gray color called „Putty“.  Compaq used „Beach Gray“.  Digital Equipment Corporation computers were painted a brownish gray.  HP used a slightly blue-tinted gray.  And so it was, until the late 1990s.

 

In the late 1990s I was working for Compaq Computer Corporation.  The Product Marketing group had been studying consumer electronics trends, and realized that CE manufacturers were regularly changing case colors.  A plan was put into place.

 

I helped facilitate a Blind Study of 100 customers at our Corporate headquarters, pulled from all over the US.  Each participant was sent into a room, where there were two computers - one gray-colored, the other black.  The participants were given only the instructions, „work with the two machines, and tell us what the difference is between them“.

 

Both computers were completely identical, other than the case color.  Internals exactly the same, software exactly the same, benchmarked to show that they were complete clones, except for the case color.  Each system was completely reset to default after every participant used it.

 

The result - out of 100 participants, every single person came out of the room and said, „The Black Computer is faster.“

 

For the next product refresh, every Compaq computer was black.  Within a year, the entire industry followed suit, except for Apple Computer.  Apple continued with the „Sand“ color for its Macintosh line, and ventured into pastel colors as an option for its all-in-one, which was a total marketing failure.

 

20+ years later, we still see the results of the Compaq study.  The vast majority of computers (large-scale and home devices) are black, dark gray, or some combination.  The industry has also started following the CE trend of silver devices, but the bulk still fall into black/dark gray.

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Ha! No, I’ve never wondered! But interesting! Mine is grey ( and needs a clean!). I would like a computer which matches my sultry, sexy blue eyes😂.

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44 minutes ago, john g. said:

Ha! No, I’ve never wondered! But interesting! Mine is grey ( and needs a clean!). I would like a computer which matches my sultry, sexy blue eyes😂.

 

Even Big Blue (IBM) never made an actual blue computer.  Sorry, dude.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Space Cowboy said:

 

Even Big Blue (IBM) never made an actual blue computer.  Sorry, dude.

 

 

Sure computer cases are just boring, but thats what I expect, why should they be anything different  ?

And why should they be interesting ?

 

For me  Digital Equipment Corporation computer, were the best, period, we still use emulators in our company - its just so logical

 

But we should al understand, by nature computers have no colour, they are just boxes. Everybody thinks of computer as the star trek enterprise, with lots of flashing lights but that just not true, they are just non-thinking boring machines.

 

Its the application, that makes them interesting, take Pinball, with all the flashing lights and sounds, using the resources of the computer to do something visual is the best part of computers, using your computer to do your taxes, will make you fall a sleep so fast it does not matter what colour it is.

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, yesterday said:

Sure computer cases are just boring, but thats what I expect, why should they be anything different  ?

And why should they be interesting ?

 

For me  Digital Equipment Corporation computer, were the best, period, we still use emulators in our company - its just so logical

 

But we should al understand, by nature computers have no colour, they are just boxes. Everybody thinks of computer as the star trek enterprise, with lots of flashing lights but that just not true, they are just non-thinking boring machines.

 

Its the application, that makes them interesting, take Pinball, with all the flashing lights and sounds, using the resources of the computer to do something visual is the best part of computers, using your computer to do your taxes, will make you fall a sleep so fast it does not matter what colour it is.

 

 

 

 

 

I was at Compaq when we bought Digital.  That was a catastrophic decision, and it pretty much defined the hardware industry for decades.  The decision ruined four companies (Compaq, Digital, HP, and Tandem) and sent the industry into a tailspin.

 

That decision was made by a German - Eckard Pfeiffer - whose stated goal was „World Domination“.

 

Go figure.

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i helped host the video conference when they anounced the take over...  I was in Chancy...      

I did shed loads for them!!  

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1 hour ago, Space Cowboy said:

 

Even Big Blue (IBM) never made an actual blue computer.  Sorry, dude.

 

 

Sorry space Cowboy, you are completely wrong.  The IBM 360 range was available in blue, yellow and red.  Blue was the default.  Red and yellow were available to special order.  I don't know the figures but I would hazard a guess that way over 50% of the 360s ever built were blue.

 

I think, but cannot be sure, that the second generation 1401,1440 etc. were also usually blue.  I'm happy to be corrected on this point.

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..Oh nooooooo!!  

Heaven forbid that Space Cowboy is proved wrong again!.. 

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2 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

For the next product refresh, every Compaq computer was black.  Within a year, the entire industry followed suit, except for Apple Computer.  Apple continued with the „Sand“ color for its Macintosh line, and ventured into pastel colors as an option for its all-in-one, which was a total marketing failure.

 

Ah, I beg to differ.

SGI workstations and servers have been produced with all sorts of chassis colors, ranging from bright blue (Indy!) over green to purple, dark blue (origin!) , black-purple etc. And they were very successful, especially in the visualization and animation area.

 

I personally own several smaller vintage SGI systems and can attest to the colors. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Graphics#Workstations

 

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Worked the rounds with SGI too... Salford Keys.. Manchester... They premiered some  software and showcased "toy story" ... long long time before the film!

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Yeah, the 1960s had some wild colors.

 

Edit - @starkebogen is correct.  Prior to the 1970s, there were red and blue IBM systems.  My apologies - that was before my time.

 

I checked the archives, and could not find any yellow systems that were actually sold.  Definitely some yellow systems in marketing pics.

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31 minutes ago, Metall said:

 

Ah, I beg to differ.

SGI workstations and servers have been produced with all sorts of chassis colors, ranging from bright blue (Indy!) over green to purple, dark blue (origin!) , black-purple etc. And they were very successful, especially in the visualization and animation area.

 

I personally own several smaller vintage SGI systems and can attest to the colors. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_Graphics#Workstations

 

 

SGI is long-dead :)

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yes... but we have all debunked thy claim about computer  colours

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Digital Equipment manufactured the 3 generations of their PDP 10 mainframes with cabinets that were predominantly blue. The Dec System 20 range of mainframes which used the same hardware as the 3rd generation PDP 10 but a different operating system had orange and grey cabinets.

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23 minutes ago, keith2011 said:

Digital Equipment manufactured the 3 generations of their PDP 10 mainframes with cabinets that were predominantly blue. The Dec System 20 range of mainframes which used the same hardware as the 3rd generation PDP 10 but a different operating system had orange and grey cabinets.

 

VAX were all monochrome.

 

My point was „modern“ computer colors.  It seems to have been lost.  Oh well.  Carry on.

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2 hours ago, SpiderPig said:

Worked the rounds with SGI too... Salford Keys.. Manchester... They premiered some  software and showcased "toy story" ... long long time before the film!

For the film the shots were rendered on Sun Microsystems computers (this was before I joined Sun).

 

The Sun desktop / deskside computers were generally cream in colour (I only recently got rid of an Ultra 80 workstation to an enthusiast).

The Sun Enterprise range of servers were a sort of blue-grey colour.

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Interesting indeed, Apple built the "Knutschkugel" all in one in a variety of colours but the blue one was the most popular, they also built the e-mac which was a white Knutschkugel and was aimed at schools and libraries etc. only it was cheaper than a I-mac and much more capable, so it was dropped and is now as rare as hens teeth. The colours were kept until the G4 "Kopfkissen" after which Apple went metal.

Having said that black is beautiful, Steve "the Jobs" did the NeXT in a sexy black tone. You can pick one or two up on ebay but expect a just shy of 10.000 USD price tag for a unit in the original box. You can also find a brand new LISA for 20.000.

Apple also tried a few "clear" shelled units, I must admit I found the cube totally cute and I would kill to get my hands on a 20th century mac, they were the ultimate on sexy computers.

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9 hours ago, Space Cowboy said:

VAX were all monochrome.

 

The first VAX (11/780) from memory had a blue trimmed logo and the cabinet top was also blue.

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