Tech Trends'08: Personalized Computing

The Rise of Mass Computing

A Retrospective Look

Bursting into the void of personalization was Alienware, whose systems were all the rage for their looks and specs. Like Apple, their PCs were expensive and mostly for those who could afford it. Paying through the nose was a sort of statement some consumers could make for almost exclusive bragging rights to stand out among their peers as Alienware marketed their systems as luxury items as opposed to the run of the mill PCs that were currently saturating the market. Space age colors were the main difference (apart from hardware) that stood out from normal PCs; it was only in 2003 that Alienware started using the iconic casing design that is now associated with them.

Gamers were intensely individualistic persons whose craving for being the "top of the food chain" fueled the interest of such systems. Seen here is the first generation casing in metallic blue. Add in the fact that the hardware specs were top of the line (at that time) made this one of the most desirable computers back then.

Of course luxury goods aren't in the grasp of the masses and so that further fuelled the desire for a PC that looks unique at more affordable levels. Thus sprung the case modding scene which started off with glowing LED lights in casings to side panels that were laser engraved or were cut to custom-made patterns with interesting glow effects from internal LEDs. While mostly for enthusiasts, the custom casing scene drew a lot of interest from common users who did not either have the experience or the time for such time-intensive projects.

These projects would take on various forms and specs, and would eventually become somewhat of an art scene, as modders started using various themes from almost anything imaginable to create their customized PCs, stuff like pyramids , R2D2 from Star Wars and Optimus Prime from the Transformers cartoon were but some of the interesting custom cases that we stumbled across during the course of writing this article.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the really extreme mods. Travelling with this is probably not a good idea, if you know what we mean.

Modders have also started modding consoles, from the Nintendo DS Lite to the Xbox, mostly by changing the appearance of the outside cover of the consoles and adding little touches to accessories to complete the theme.

Created in December 07, this Nintendo Wii mod was commissioned for filmmaker Kevin Smith as a Christmas present and features characters from his movie, Clerks. Ramon Stokes put in over 60 hours of work for this sweet looking mod which also includes work done on the controllers.