LGR – Strangest Computer Designs of the ’90s

LGR – Strangest Computer Designs of the ’90s


[Typing] The 1990s. Where boring, beige boxes ruled the PC world. Or did they? Actually, if you know where to look, there was a bit going on in terms of experimentation, and technological shots in the dark. So, let’s take a look at a bunch of computers
that stand out to me for their weirdness, in regards to overall look, usability and
specifications alike. First up is the Packard Bell Corner PC. This is one of those machines that looks pretty
cool at first, but then makes no sense when you think about
it. Known informally as the “corner computer,” you’d think these machines from 1995 were
meant to fit snugly in the corner of a room. Until you realize that plugging in the cords
in the back prevents that. Then there’s also the matter of the drive
bays being in weird, inconvenient locations, meaning that you couldn’t set it up in any
kind of confined space like a normal front-facing case design. The Compaq Presario 3020. Compaq had a grand old time designing unique,
all-in-one PCs in the ’90s, and the 3020 is one of the more bizarre. It’s basically a desktop crammed into a slim,
vertical case, with an adjustable TFT LCD display built in, as well as a four-disc CD changer, integrated speakers, floppy drive, and even
a wireless mouse. Ahead of it’s time? Well, you bet! So much so that the number of units sold is
minuscule, and hardly anyone has heard of the thing. Apple’s Twentieth Anniversary Mac Released in 1997 to mark Apple’s twentieth
birthday, the TAM is a machine that — fair or not — frequently makes it onto lists of the worst
Apple products ever. Detractors only see an ugly slab with a subwoofer off to the side that looks
like a trash can, and hardly anyone bought it, at first, due
to the launch price of $7,500. Nevertheless, once the price was slashed,
it earned a cult following, having laid the groundwork for the all-in-one
iMac designs still used today. Mattel’s Hot Wheels and Barbie computers. These PCs from 1999 were an unmitigated disaster. Not only were they overpriced, re-painted
versions of this generic Onyx PC design, but a manufacturing defect caused mass hardware
failings, resulting in countless returns. It got to be so bad that the manufacturer,
Patriot Computers, declared bankruptcy a year later, with thousands of orders going unfulfilled and people never getting their money back. The Amiga Technologies’ Walker. After Commodore’s demise in 1994, the Escom Corporation took up the reigns of
the Amiga line of computers in 1995. One of their first orders of business was
to update the aging A1200 computer and this took the form of the Amiga Walker. But the case that the Walker used was almost
universally disliked, being compared to a vacuum cleaner or Doctor Who’s dog, K-9. Only two were ever constructed and the machine
never left the prototype stage with Escom and Amiga Technologies going bankrupt
less than a year later. The Sega Teradrive by IBM. Sold only in Japan, beginning in 1991, the Teradrive was manufactured by IBM in partnership
with Sega. Not only is it fully IBM PC-compatible, but
it features built-in Sega Mega Drive hardware as well. All your Sega controllers and games could
be played alongside your DOS games, and even worked as a Sega software development
kit, making for a killer combo. Amstrad also did a similar thing with the
Mega PC in various PAL regions, but the Teradrive remains the one more sought
after by collectors. The Gateway Destination. Companies like Commodore, Apple and Compaq,
had already experimented with PC/TV combos at the time, but Gateway’s Destination in 1996 took it
to another level. This was a Pentium-based desktop PC, packed to the brim with the latest hardware, and came bundled with a monstrous 31-inch
CRT TV. It even had a wireless keyboard, TV tuner
card and a DVD-ROM, with software to combine Windows 95 and traditional
TV. Of course, it also cost upwards of $4,000 and required a team of bodybuilders to move
it around, so it didn’t exactly catch on. V-Sync’s Internet Refrigerator. In 1998, Mastushita, in cooperation with Intergate
Technology, were one of the first to jump into the “Internet
of Things” bandwagon with the Internet Fridge. This was Pentium 2-based PC running Linux, outfitted with a modem and a ton of sensors all jammed into a refrigerator. Controlled either by touch or by voice, the idea was that it would keep track of your
food, shopping lists and recipes. It may not have caught on back then, but perhaps
the day of the Internet Fridge is still to come. The Tiger Learning Computer. On the outside, this may look like your typical
educational toy thing, but– look closer and you’ll see a curiously-placed
“Apple Technology” sticker. That’s because inside of this children’s computer
from 1996 is hardware based on the legendary Apple IIe
computer from the ’80s. It was planned to be a new lease on life for
the old hardware, but– the Learning Computer sadly never even made
it out of the test-market phase and examples are insanely hard to come by
as a result. And finally, the Dell WebPC. For a time, legacy-free Internet appliance
PCs were the new hotness, starting around 1999 when Dell released their
WebPC. Referred to as “legacy-free” because they
were built to use new hardware and software and not even bother with backwards compatibility, and “Internet appliance” because their sole
function was to connect to the Internet. Dell’s example is notable because of its “mushroomy”
funky design, with a monitor jutting out of the side, like
some sort of mutation, and the oh-so-trendy colored faceplates that clashed with the rest of its dark bluish-gray
case. And that’s all for this selection of strange
PCs of the ’90s. If you liked this idea, let me know. I’m sure I could dig up some more stuff to
talk about. And if there’s some that you think I missed,
then, yeah, just list them in the comments. I’d love to see more of this stuff. As if you didn’t know it, you can subscribe
to be notified when there’s more videos in the
future, or just friggin’ watch out for them every
Monday and Friday here on the show. And there’s also Twitter and Facebook and
Patreon, Blah-be-da-be-da-be-da… And, as always, thank you very much for watching.


100 thoughts on “LGR – Strangest Computer Designs of the ’90s

  1. The Gateway Destination’s tv had such a weak resolution (as it was just a tv) They did have a few combination monitor/TVs back in the 90s.

    I am trying to remember the exact name of a BeBox that was literally a cube. I’ve found info on the one in a tower that had led light built into the case, but I definitely remember Be selling another BeBox that was a weird cube.

  2. Escom was founded in my hometown (Heppenheim, Germany).
    You can still see an old Escom logo on what once was their manufacturing plant (just behind the local BK restaurant).

  3. Funny how we now actually have the technology to easily build a modern and cheap "internet fridge", but afaik nobody has ever constructed one to any commercial success.

  4. Tiger learning computer….only the school or library may buy it. Only 10 people in the world want learn on computer at home

  5. Omg. I had the Destination. Mine was maxxed out, and $5000. We had just gotten married and didn't have a TV, and the husband's packard bell was old.

    We used it for a long time.

  6. I like the iMac G3. It was the only iMac that came in different colours and it was the first Apple product to have the “i” prefix in its name (yeah it predates the iPod by like 3 years)

  7. Man, if the corner PC had front-mounted cable ports, it’d be incredibly cool and if probably want to collect one now for how cool it looks.

  8. In 2001 my parents tried to get my elderly grandma connected to email and basic typing word pad by buying her the 1999 Compaq Presario. It had a monitor on a solid frame but all the corners were rounded and the then the tower unit was also very rounded and bumpy in how it jutted put away from itself. She learned to use email and a word pad, and a few cd rooms but I think she never truly liked using computers. She had a Dell XP later on down the road until 2012 but then decided to writing everything longhand in cursive script and using us postage stamps. I don’t miss that Presario one single bit.

  9. Apparently Steve Jobs cancelled the licensing of Apple IIe technology for the Tiger Learning Computer.

  10. I had a dell web pc my mom bought it for me and my school work from rent a center and that was kind of a beast for the time at leats for me. in the low end pc departments for the time. At the time a learn about everything I could from computers and i could even run great red hat linux with no problems and it never die on me. I remenber upgrading from windows 98 to Me at the time and I use to play diablo, Diablo 2, quake, unreal tornament, age of empires I guess it could run alot more games but does were the ones i had. i had so much fun playing even online with it i think know and is so awesome how far we have come. i wish i could have one right now and beef it up to its maximun potential with a at leats windows xp and see what coukd have been . I remeber just stoping using it because of that and the birth of dual cores procesosors. But all i can say is dont jugde a book by its cover i even let the poor thing turn on days even weeks downloading music and ripping music to cds with a external cdrw. And it never miss a bit it was a little fighter much better than my neighbor friends compac presario 😂💪🔥 alot of quake 2 and ideal tornatment death matches i rule in dial up conections and later etherne. I feel like crying in happyness knowing that. One of my first introduxtions to computers is in this list as a weird one. I always though it was kind of weird compared to all the conputers for the timenbut i spend so much time with it that wen i finally move one and look back it was a great jorney that it guide me trough that little thing 😂thank you tell andyour boldness✌ great work lgr keep it up

  11. I'm late to the party here but my fave computers were the SGI 540 NT based systems. I still have one. It was a HUGE monstrosity that ran Windows NT SvPk4 or Win2K with a special patch. The fans sounded like a turbo engine when you started it up. Since the graphics memory and system memory were the same you could actually allocate more to the graphics if you were using 3D Studio Max or back to the system if you were in AutoCAD. It was a nasty beast but I still love it. Mine has 2 Xeon processors at 500mhz (I think!) and it cost around $10,000. It could do 4 Xeons total! Anyways.. that would be a cool computer to take a tour of.

  12. 5:46 it looks like an Xbox 360 with obesity😂 (although the Xbox 360 came out much later XD)

  13. The worst part about the Amiga Walker is how the CD-ROM and floppy drives were beige. Had they been black, or – better yet – the same silver colour as the rest of the case, it would have looked significantly less bad.

  14. Hot wheels pc was my first pc. Worked great until the power supply got shot… played the shit out of the hot wheels computer game

  15. The Compaq me2000 handheld internet device. I had 10 of them, terrible design. Horrifically slow. All socket 1 with 128mb sdram. And windows 98

  16. What about Next? Or, rather, NeXT. Or NExt. Or something like that… What happened when Steve Jobs didn't have to answer to anybody…

  17. That Gateway Destination is pretty impressive, and if it's using off the shelf components it could probably be upgraded.

  18. This machine is awesome with all thse features i m surprised that modern similar attempts arent made. Like instead of crt a strong gpu should be there. And really rest all features are a gift. Just upgrade quality and modern counterparts.

  19. holy shit… Compaqs were absolute DOG SHIT, but they were actually pretty genius coming up with the all-in-one PC before anyone else.. Gotta give them props.

  20. In the 90's in Australia there was the "FISH" PC which the case looked like a fish pointing nose up and the CD drive was vertical in the belly. The specs were very bad and it didn't last long in the market, you might say the whole thing was "fishy".
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zXDo4dL7SU

  21. I remember when I was little my mom would come in and work on this computer plugged into this giant heavy tv. Its amazing how light and small these things are these days

  22. The weird designs from the 90s only look weird now. It's funny but if you lived in that decade, those designs would actually look futuristic and artistic to your 90s self. lol

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