Technology and style

The slightly less young among us remember how computers have changed over the years. Even if we limit our thoughts to what we now call a “PC” (which used to be called “IBM compatible” or a “PC clone”), there have been changes.

IBM’s original design for its popular “AT” computer was gray and beige, and when compatible desktop computers first became available in the late 1980s, the official color of computers was beige. This carried through to computer accessories such as keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners as well: everything was beige. (Even the first Macintosh computer was gray-beige-ish.) Did someone declare that computers shall be beige, and everyone just had to comply? Or maybe people just took it for granted that computers are obviously beige, and that’s just The Way Things Are.

This beigeness continued throughout the 1990s. As the 90s progressed, companies of all sorts were now trying to sound modern by including “2000” in their product or company names. “Gateway 2000” was a popular maker of (beige) computers. The Shell gas station on the corner offered three grades of gas, called “SR-2000”, “SU-2000”, and “UR-2000”, or something like that. Also, to emphasize how modern we all felt, every company suddenly decided to use a curved “swoosh” in their logo. Yes, these were exciting times.

The guy at the local donut shop kept asking me about what was going to come of all this “Y2K” stuff. I realized that it must be vastly over-hyped. If your bank gave you a 30-year mortgage anytime after 1970, their computers already had to know how to store dates after the year 2000. I half expected that from time to time, other common programming bugs might come into the news. Maybe some important piece of software would cause a newsworthy mishap because its loops went one iteration too far, and then there would be an “off-by-one” craze. There could be a lucrative business in having software certified for being completely free of all off-by-one errors in its loop counters.

Anyway, at some point in the early 2000s, someone rethought the beige thing and decided that henceforth, all computers shall be black. Later on they decided to cut them some slack and allow some silver parts as well. Peripherals were allowed to have bits of gray or beige as decoration. (Since then they’ve decided to allow other colors, especially in laptops.)

As I recall, sometime after that, LCD monitors became the norm. I once owned a CRT monitor from that era that was colored black and silver. But soon even the guy to whom I usually gave all my technological surplus no longer wanted any CRTs. I actually had a black and silver CRT monitor, and it went to be recycled because nobody wanted it.

Having a clear memory of the black computer revolution occuring first, being followed by the LCD revolution, I was surprised upon going through some old items around the house to have my memory jogged by finding not one, but two of these things:

A real anachronism

A real anachronism

I had totally forgotten about this! I would have thought this to be an anachronism, since we all know that the edict of blackness came before LCDs, but yet there it is.

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