The look of computers has changed quite a bit since the early days of the ugly brown and gray boxes. Here's a look at how personalization options have paved the way for new PC designs such as Legally Blonde's pink laptop, and the ways companies like Apple and Dell have banked on it.
Computer Case Designs - The Early Years
During the early years of home computing, the average desktop computer would cost you several thousand dollars (in 1980's dollars) and was seen more as a tool for the wealthy and elite. There was no internet, no Facebook, no DVD's to watch, and most video games could be played using a much cheaper Atari 2600 system hooked up to your tube television. Computers were used for their function and not meant to be desktop ornaments like some are today. For that reason, most of the computers made before the original iMac came out looked some like the old IBM XT you see in the photo here - BORING!
Sometime around the mid 1990’s, a crazy thing happened. Computers started changing colors. Instead of the ugly old tan or gray boxes, some PC manufacturers were shipping machines in slick black boxes. Companies like Dell and Gateway were setting themselves apart with more modern designs and then other companies started to follow. With all of this going on, the custom PC market still boomed with people buying their own components and building their own machines. Even with these big changes in the outward look of computers, it was Apple that blew everyone away.
(Image credit - Old-Computers.com)
Apple's iMac G3 Changes Everything
When Apple introduced the first iMac G3 in 1998, it caught a lot of people’s attention. I knew folks who didn’t care the first thing about computers but wanted an iMac because they ‘looked cool’ and thus the trend started. The new iMac debuted the same year as the redesigned VW Beetle car, and both featured a bulbous design with lots of curves and no sharp edges. It was an all-in-one computer design with a big handle on top, and all you had to do was plug in your keyboard and mouse.
Apple had taken their old Macintosh design and made something sleek and modern and it sold like crazy. Pretty soon, the iMac was popping up in movies and TV shows. It was so recognizable that it became almost like a work of art, and in some ways it was. Be sure to check out this great article on the history of the iMac to see how it has changed over the years.
Since Apple officially kicked off the notion of custom computer looks with their multi-color options, pretty much every other PC manufacturer has followed suit. I think a lot of it has to do with computers becoming such common household items thanks to the widespread use of the Internet, and that all picked up in the 1990’s. If you look at the rise of ISP’s and the web starting in the early 1990’s, you’ll see that the trend in making more distinguishable computers followed soon after.
The Pink Laptop from Legally Blonde
In 2001, a goofy Reese Witherspoon movie called Legally Blonde broke new ground with the idea of laptops for girls, and the pink laptop phenomenon was born. Legally Blonde’s pink laptop was meant to be a joke because of its bright pink color and frilly screen wrap, and it fit right in with the personality of the character played by Witherspoon. What happened was this funny little movie prop started a desire for pink computers, because there had never been one. For the longest time, computers and the computing profession had long been associated with men, and now women wanted to see a little femininity with their computers.
Nowadays, you can get computers in a wide variety of custom colors ranging from blue, green, red, white, black, and of course, pink. The same goes for mp3 players, cell phones and cases, and as the line between computer and cell phone continues to blur, it should come as no surprise that both offer a wide variety of custom options for personalizing your mobile device.
Where to Buy a Pink Laptop
If you want a pink laptop, you can get them from most every manufacturer. Dell offers several different colors for their notebook computers, with some colors being specific to certain models to help them stand out. Dell also offers colored panels for the front of their Inspiron desktop computers. HP, Sony, Toshiba, and many others are also in on the game. Gateway offers several different colors, but only on their cheaper model notebook computers, with no choice on their desktop model. Asus has hit paydirt with their lineup of Aspire One netbook computers for under $300, and they come in a wide variety of colors, including pink.
The only downside to all this customization is that you might have a little trouble selling the computer later on, depending on how much you do to it. Some manufacturers use interchangeable color panels so it's easy to swap out the look. I have seen people actually get their tattoo artists to draw custom designs on computer cases, if you wanted to take things that far.
Needless to say, customized computer designs are here to stay. It's funny to think that the movie Legally Blonde's pink laptop would spark such a revolution, but that's exactly what it did. I wouldn't doubt that the option for pink laptops has helped to sell a few computers to customers who might not have otherwise bothered.
(Image credit: Dell.com)