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COMPUTERS

I’ve been collecting old computers for several years now. I’m primarily interested in the industrial design of the machines and how it has evolved over the years. It is then, perhaps, no coincidence that Apple features prominently in my collection, given the company’s traditional focus on design. That being said, there are certainly exceptions, and some of my computers are more about sentiment than anything else, particularly the ones I used as a child (this helps to explain the Commodore 64).

This page is a work in progress!

1992
Apple
PowerBook
Mac
Laptop
1990s

PowerBook Duo 280

The most interesting thing about the Duo, to me, is the Duo Dock, a beastly docking station that accepted the entire (closed) laptop like a disk drive. The dock could be hooked up to an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals. In addition, the dock contained hardware to expand the capabilities of the laptop, such as a floating point unit and additional video memory.

Wikipedia

1993
Apple
Newton
Mobile
PDA
1990s

Newton MessagePad 120

The Newton predicted Apple’s future as a mobile device powerhouse. Unfortunately for Apple, the device was too expensive to be widely adopted. There were also problems with the handwriting recognition, its signature feature. Additionally, in many ways, the world just wasn’t ready for advanced mobile devices. The Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) category found some success, but it wasn’t until cellular internet access became widespread that mobile devices really took off.

One interesting tidbit, the Newton used a CPU designed by Advanced RISC Machines Ltd., a company that would later rename itself Arm Ltd. and provide the underlying architecture for the processors inside the iPhone and the new M1 CPU.

Wikipedia

2002
Apple
iMac
Mac
Desktop
2000s

iMac G4

In my opinion, the greatest desktop computer design of all time. The LCD is supported by a spring-loaded arm, which makes it trivial to adjust its position and angle. This was also the first iMac to have an LCD display.

Released in 2002 and discontinued in 2004 in favor of the modern slab-style iMac, the innovative design was short-lived. The LCD arm as a concept, however, is now nearly ubiquitous and this was the first widely popular instance that I know of.

Wikipedia

2003
Apple
PowerBook
Mac
Laptop
2000s

PowerBook G4 (Aluminum)

The 12" model that I own is one of my favorite laptop designs. It always felt efficient, given that the keyboard went from edge-to-edge. I also liked the small size, it felt truly portable compared to many of its contemporaries. In many ways, at least in my mind, this was the first truly modern laptop.

Wikipedia

2010
Apple
iPad
Mobile
2010s

iPad

The original iPad felt like Star Trek come to life when it was announced. While Microsoft had been trying to make the tablet PC happen for years, Apple went a different route. The iPad looked, and operated, more like a smartphone than a laptop.

Wikipedia


A George Lesica Joint