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Beige boxes bog standard stays

Transparent fruity colours don't go with territory

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In just a fortnight's time, the spotty adolescent PC youth will be 19 years old, and no doubt has already plotted out his future plans involving, as they must, ever faster microprocessors and even faster memories.

(Just like dogs are male and cats are female, so PCs must be masculine and Macintoshes feminine, musn't they?)

The sophistication of PC companies, all of them piggy-backing off the success of the original IBM PC and so a little younger than Big Blue, knows few bounds, which is why, from time to time, we've been faced with all sorts of half-cocked initiatives, including the doshless workstation, Windows for Warehouses, and not excluding the Net PC nor the pastel-coloured notebooks NEC tried to peddle and the famous (but now mercifully forgotten) Olivetti leather-clad laptops.

As related in this excellent History of Microprocessors, on that date in 1981, Big Blue released its 5150 jobbie with a massive memory of 64KB, the fabulous 4.77MHz i8088, a 160KB floppy and PC DOS 1.0 for $3000. What a bargain.

How the industry has progressed since then.

It was only three Intel Developer Forums ago that Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger, a senior Chipzilla VP who mastermind the 386 instruction set, took the stage in Palm Springs accompanied by a bevy of high kicking Bunny Girls [surely people? - Ed] to announce that the Style PC, only one element of the famous Four Sses was going to rule the world.

Intel's Style PC initiative was partly formed as a reaction to the then whirlwind success of the iMac, and partly due to its no-doubt laudable plans to help rid the world of all those messy wires that even now stick out of the back of most people's PCs.

But two of Intel's foremost PC customers after IBM rocketed the 8088 chip to stardom - CompatibleQuality and Dell - quietly shelved their own versions of the Style PCs only a fortnight ago.

And, as far as we could judge from the Computex trade show held in Taiwan in June, there were very few transparent and highly coloured cases on display, indicating that the practical Taiwanese had realised that if people wanted a computer coloured tangerine, they'd better get it through an Apple authorised dealer (cough).

Beige PCs look like they have a long and healthy life ahead of them, just as long as Intel and the others don't start developing cuboid cases all of a sudden. That would be too much like that NeXT thingie that Steve Jobs told us would take over the world, wouldn't it?

After all, if you're running Excel, PowerPoint and databases on your PC in the office, the last thing you want to do is to be able to see through the case and see the massive heatsink and multiple fans cooling down the Pentium 4 and Ramboids sitting inside. Do you? ®

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