Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

Since the dawn of the computing age, home computers have been associated with the proverbial “beige box”. However, there have been plenty of occasions where a manufacturer has stepped outside this stereotype to produce something really original.

Here are 10 examples of (what I consider) really creative PC designs. These are not the only ones. There are certainly others… but here are a few that really “broke the mould” so to speak. They are listed in chronological order.

1. Commodore PET (1977): Back in the 1970’s, home computing was uncharted territory. Commodore was way ahead of the curve with the introduction of the Personal Electronics Transactor (PET) in 1977. Countless PCs since have followed this basic design.

1977 commodore pet Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

2. Atari ST-series (1985): Amidst theĀ  mid-80’s trends of GUI operating systems and 8-bit video games, Atari released the ST-series of computers. It was an original design for the time with a sleek silver look. the truth be told, it still looks pretty cool today.

1985 atari st Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

3. NeXT Cube (1990): Before the PowerMac G4 cube (another iconic design) arrived, there was the NeXT Cube. This was a novel PC design from a novel company producing a novel OS. Unfortunately, neither the cube nor the NeXTSTEP OS had any widespread success. Still, the NeXT Cube inevitably earned it’s place in PC history.

1990 next cube Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

4. SGI Octane (1997): In the 1990’s, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) was on the forefront of digital graphics and animation. It was only appropriate that their computers were original designs as well. The Octane had a cutting edge shape similar to the NeXT cube, but sleeker and more colorful with asymmetric styling.

1997 sgi octane Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

5. 20th Anniversary Macintosh (1997): To celebrate the company’s 20th Birthday, Apple released a limited run of the 20th Anniversary Macintosh. This oddly shaped computer had an LCD display at a time when most people didn’t know what one was. It also had an integrated TV, radio, and Bose speaker system.

1997 20th anniv mac Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

6. Apple PowerMac G3 Blue & White (1999): After the release of the iMac in 1998, Apple made a move to get away from the “plain beige box” mentality. They released the Blue & White PowerMac G3 which had a unique design with a drop down side door and integrated handles. This thing was way ahead of its time! It still looks impressive, even by today’s standards. The matching CRT monitor just sealed the deal.

1999 bw pm g3 Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

7. Alienware Area 51 (2000-ish): Alienware was formed in 1996 and unveiled their first desktop PC in 1998. However, it wasn’t until sometime around the turn of the century (I couldn’t find the exact year) when they adopted the iconic shape of the Area 51. It looked like it came from outer space. Wicked!

2000 alienware area 51 Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

8. Apple iMac G4 (2002): The original iMac sent waves through the home PC industry. Apple did it again in 2002 when they released the iMac G4. This new iMac had a flat panel display that hovered over a dome-shaped base. Sporting a circular motherboard, it was unlike any other PC design… right down to the spherical clear plastic speakers. Soooo cool!

2002 imac g4 Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

9. Dell XPS 700-series (2006): Traditionally, Dell has not been praised for their innovative designs. In fact, most Dell PCs have been criticized for their uncreative and downright boxy looks. However, the XPS 700-series was definitely an exception. It resembled a jet engine and was available with either red or blue lights. This thing just looked fast!

2006 dell xps 700 Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

10. Sony Vaio LT-series (2007): Some people claim the all-in-one Vaio PCs were just an Apple knock off, but the LT-series is definitely worth a mention. This combination TV/PC looked like a picture frame. It was sleek, modern, and you ould even hand it on the wall. Very stylish!

2008 sony vaio lt Think Outside The Beige Box: 10 Creative PC Designs

That completes this look a some of the innovative PC designs. Got one you like better? Tell me about it. Feel free to post a comment below.

About the Author

avatar KALE: A geek who works in the IT field and lives in Dallas, TX. He is also a music geek who has played in several local bands. Previous to his IT career, Kale worked as a photojournalist. He brings technical advice and artistic counterpoint to the podcast.