Tech Trends'08: Personalized Computing

In The Beginning

Coming Out Of The Comformist Closet

Big, beige and boxy was probably the best description of most personal computers from the 1990s. Since the beginning of personal computing, starting with the x86 series that had most users pasting stickers or adding figurines to the top of their beige boxes to brighten up an otherwise staid looking desktop, or setting themes and desktop pictures, users were looking for a touch of identity for their machines.

This was what Apple rightfully addressed when they released their first (based on a grapefruit) "Bondi Blue" iMac in 1998 that had critics raving and consumers going gaga over its aesthetic appeal and compact form factor, to its marketing slogan where Apple declared that the back of their computer "looks better than the front of anyone else's". Their easily recognizable iMac enshrined Apple's design philosophy which still very much carries on today.

The original iMac with its funky colors made them easily recognizable to the masses, and while the focus of colors may have changed to a polycarbonate white and the products have gone a lot slimmer, the essential iMac design has not changed.

Even before Apple burst onto the scene with their snazzy looking computers, consumers could purchase custom designed casings, but non IT-savvy users were mostly limited to generic looking models that were either limited to black, beige or silver grey from mass market computer manufacturers. Let's now take a look at what was developing for consumers on the other end of the spectrum...

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