“Fashion often repeats itself, with dated products reborn into popular products. Just think of VolksWagen’s Beetle or BMW’s Mini. And now we can add the Commodore Amiga to the list, sort of, thanks to a new all-in-one PC with a look rather reminiscent of the home computer.” This design was also used by the MSX, my actual first computer experience (apart from a Binatone Mk. IV).
Keyboard PC Design Recalls Amiga Era
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2008-03-26 11:12 pmsonic2000gr
I guess this time it’s different because it’s “like the old Amiga”.
Or maybe my trusty old Atari STE
2008-03-27 8:19 amSoulbender
Or “like the ZX-81” but no one would ever say that.
2008-03-27 8:33 amflanque
I was at my local electronics giant last week and saw some HP computers that looked kind of odd.
They look similar to these.
That keyboard looks pretty bulky, and I’d much rather use a mouse than a trackpad. My idea: put the computer in the mouse! There are already expensive gaming mice with built-in memory, so why not just put the whole PC in there? I’ve got to patent this design breakthrough! (so that no one could attempt to actually create such a monstrosity)
2008-03-26 11:53 pmviton
My idea: put the computer in the mouse!
I think RISC OS PC can fit into this form factor
But this “keyboard” looks just terrible.
2008-03-27 1:08 amsenornoodle
Some of the tiny embedded Linux computers available like the Gumstix could probably fit as well. It would be cool to try to put one in a mouse, and I’m pretty certain it could be done as most mice are just a shell, a chip or two and a USB cable. But I can’t really see the use unless you wanted a wifi router in your mouse for some reason.
I’m sure someone will do it eventually anyway.
2008-03-27 9:47 amviton
But I can’t really see the use unless you wanted a wifi router in your mouse for some reason.
Imagine you can plug the mouse-pc in USB port of linux computer with X, and use that computer as a display/network, etc.
So basically the OS will run on mice, and we can connect as much devices, as USB ports available.
Mouse-pc cluster hehe
They’ve been selling these for years now.
2008-03-27 3:29 ameggs
Yeah, I worked a place that sold computers just like this to the YMCAs in the area about 4 years ago.
Nothing new here…
And I just found out about these people myself.
I’ve wanted a modern PC like that for a while; I came up with a design of a machine that took the most interesting designs of 80’s computers and used modern PC components and 3 1/2″ drives, in a more portable case. It looked more like a cross between an Apple IIe crossed with some kind of MSX or C65. Rather than a tape drive, a DVD-RW DL; rather than a cartridge slot, an SD/CF slot…
Then I found this, which is nearly it except that this thing seems to be more like a laptop, parts-wise.
…but that cheesy keyboard looks like pure ZX-81.
to come with this design. What kind of home computing culture it is ?
Even Olivetti did that around 1987-88 with a 4.77 mhz 8086 pc, was it a 286 ? i don’t remember.
2008-03-28 2:46 pmbiffuz
Even Olivetti did that around 1987-88 with a 4.77 mhz 8086 pc, was it a 286 ? i don’t remember.
Do you mean the Olivetti PC 1?
Very common in Italy, and easy to find nowadays. It is an IBM compatible but used a NEC CPU (compatible with hte 8086).
2008-03-30 8:46 amDifferent
I miss my Atari ST
This article got me thinking about the state of PC hardware at the minute.
I used to love the excitement in the 80’s of the home computer market. Everyone arguing who had the best system, who’s computer could do what, with whatever.
A new computer came out, everyone waited to see pictures of it, the style, the back end to see the supported ports, and if there was any new ones. Do a Google (sorry Mr Ballmer, do an MSN search) for “Spectravideo 318” for example.
All this is lost when all PC’s can do the same things with the same hardware components, and “usually” the same operating systems.
Bring back something like the TRS-80 or the Spectrum, SAM or even the Mattel Aquarius.
2008-03-27 8:13 amSoulbender
Well, it WAS the golden age of home computing, at least IMHO. How awesome was it that you got program listings in the magazines? That there were like 5 gazillion different brands of computers? That new games actually did something new, not just looked prettier? That you had joysticks that could probably survive a 20ft drop? (Go Wico Commander)
Ok ok, I’m wearing the rosy glasses and exaggerating somewhat but still, it was an awesome time. Go 80’s!
2008-03-27 8:25 amraver31
I forgot about the program listings….
My favourite source for them was in “Your Computer”, probably my favourite computer mag of all time.
Not only was I learning BASIC for my Spectrum, I was also comparing it with the BASIC’s for the other systems at the time.
Hours spent typing page after page or HEX was the worst, then finding it did not work, then having to go through it all again
Checksums were excellent when they started to include them
2008-03-27 4:37 pmg2devi
It was a different time. Back then, you could get excited about doing something simple like:
10 Print “Hello”
20 Goto 10
and “voiding your warranty by opening up your computer and even making unauthorized changes” was a right of passage and it was actually possible to not only learn assembly language, but be proficient in it because you had a small instruction set and no pipelining or segments or multi-threading or other fancy modern CPU features. You didn’t need them. 64K was *a lot* of memory and 1MHz was *fast*.
These days, our expectations are higher. The above program wouldn’t cut it for beginners. Users also expect to be shielded from any low level details, hardware or software, and they aren’t even curious about how things work or fit together.
I don’t see this as necessarily bad. Most people (e.g. doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc) have better things to do with their lives that to learn the arcanea of how one company decided to organize your computer. It’s no different from other fields. You don’t *need* to know the arcanea of accounting, your car, your body, in order to be about to do your taxes, take care of your car, or take care of your health. You just need to know the basics. If you want to learn more, the information is out there.
The only problem is that there’s a general apathy these days of wanting to know more, even about important things like security. Hopefully distros like Ubuntu (which don’t require you to know more that the basics, but due to it’s strong Debian heritage, allows you to know as much as you like) will change this.
2008-03-27 10:31 amJavier O. Augusto
Yeah, I’m backing you up. Go 80s!!!!
BTW, loved this PC design.
2008-03-27 1:38 pmMaxKlokan
Back then in Florence, Italy, there was a redio station that would broadcast computer programs for the ZX Spectrum (probably also for the C64, but I don’t remember, I had a Spectrum). We would just tune on to this station, record on a tape cassette the beeps and whistles and off we went with the program of the day.
Not seeing the point of this one. You still need a monitor. Might as well stuff the computer in there (ala iMac) instead of bloating the keyboard.
2008-03-27 1:39 pmMaxKlokan
… and as a result you have a laptop 😉
2008-03-27 3:52 pmDigitalAxis
But then you’d need a keyboard!
2008-03-27 11:48 pmMamiyaOtaru
Thinking about my previous post some more.
If you stuff the cimputer into the KB instead of the monitor, you can use whatever monitor you like (huge and expensive, or tiny and cheap) and can replace it at will. I don’t know that’s a convincing “why” but it is a “why” at least.
I’m planning on buying a ZPC and spray-painting the case and keyboard in two shades of brown, myself.
… I would probably prefer PC keyboard alone, encased in exact replica of Amiga 500 case, USB hub in such thing could be practical too (to connect mouse)
Regarding the article’s headline “Keyboard PC Design Recalls Amiga Era”, I thought it would be interesting to have a look at the keyboard component. Well… hmm… it seems to be a very cheap flat keyboard, built in the usual crappy manner of notebook keyboards. Oh wait, I forgot: It’s hard to buy anything else today. (NB: The worst solution prevails.) Personally, I would not like to type on such a manifestation of uselessness. 🙂
Most of you think about the C64 and the A500 or even the Atari ST or the Acorn Archimedes (I think it looked that way) when looking at the design. There are some more, less known computers that followed the approach to integrate the computers’s hardware into the keyboard case:
One of them is the Schneider Euro PC:
Another example is the HC-900 or KC87 built by RFT:
The last one had a crappy keyboard, too. 🙂
Judging from the rear view, the device does offer a nice potpourri of standard connectors. This is very welcome because expanding the functionality of the device usually requires external components (rather than changing internal ones). This even allows you to use a real keyboard. 🙂
The integrated trackpad doesn’t look appealing to me. First of all, it lacks the essential (!) third mouse button. An option to replace it with a keyboard component with a trackpoint and three buttons would be very welcome.
Does the DVD recorder, which is not mounted 100% horizontally, work correct?
And the fans… this device has two of them, hasn’t it? It must be a joy to sit at it, hearing the permanent blowing and screaming of the fans… whhhhh… 🙂 (One advantage of the C64, A500, ST etc. – they were silent!)
Finally, the price of 350 Euro is not that bad. Along with a nice monitor and a usable mouse, this device could be developed into a good workstation.
Which predates the Amiga 🙂
The 64K version actually had an integrated cassette deck instead of disk drive.
Edited 2008-03-28 16:28 UTC
Seems like at least once a year someone introduces a revolutionary new computer design where everything’s in the keyboard “like the old C64”. I guess this time it’s different because it’s “like the old Amiga”.