back to article The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Does a computer need to look sexy? You might say that the looks of such a pragmatic gadget don’t matter. After all, most of us have, at one time or another, had to make do with bland, beige boxes almost exactly like everyone else’s bland, beige box, and it didn't hinder us from getting the job done, or made play any the less …


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  1. wowfood

    Of all of those

    I only found the cray research, and the PS3 to be sexy. And I'm honestly surprised you missed off the Piston Steambox.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Of all of those

      No Memotech MTX500/512 either.

      Elegant brusched aluminium design, it was a real piece of art.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Of all of those

        Where's the 20th Century Mac ?

        Really don't understand why the Sinclair crap is in there, or the PS3 either

        1. Vance P. Frickey

          Re: Of all of those

          that's because your taste is obviously in your mouth.

  2. Yag

    Matter of tastes...

    But you should at least include the good ol' glowing eyed HAL-9000.

  3. ukgnome


    No Archimedes!

    And the inclusion of the PS3 is laughable, as that's not even a computer in the most traditional sense.

    But the Cray is sexy, very very sexy. At the same time as the cray all IBM could manage was the system 36's and towards the end of the 80's the as400 (although I do have a soft spot for the 36's).

    1. David Given
      Thumb Up

      Re: WHAT!

      Was the Cray the only computer to have upholstery?

      I'm not so sure about the Archimedes. All the designs ended up being a bit too redolent of beige box syndrome. The A400 case with the slanted front section for the floppy drive was excellent in terms of ease-of-use, but made the box look a bit squint. Likewise, the RISC PC design was great for access and modularity but was incredibly fussy --- too many angles and weird lumpy bits --- and those semicircular shutters were definitely weird.

      I'll admit to having a soft spot for the ZX80. It's just so incredibly ugly and cheap you have to love it. And the ZX Spectrum *is* a masterpiece, even by today's standards; it's a computer stripped down to its very essence, with nothing left to take away. Shame the keyboard was nigh unusable.

      1. David Given

        Re: WHAT!

        Oh, speaking of the Spectrum: a photo gallery of some of the wacky Spectrum clones from around the world, including some of the insane Russian ones. Well worth your time!

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: WHAT!

          The Spectrum looks like an iShiny compared to some of those designs which really do follow the 'form follows function' school of design.

        2. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: WHAT!

          Seeing those funky clones reminded me of all the adverts I used to see in the computer rags of the time, featuring replacement cases for the Spectrums and similar. Giving them hard keys, better angles, all the works really while largely just moving the internals from one case to another.

        3. Simon Harris

          Spectrum Clones...

          Oh, I do like the look of the white Slovakian one...

      2. Simon Harris


        "Was the Cray the only computer to have upholstery?"

        Wasn't it the XMP and YMP that had the upholstery with the chairs all around the outside rather than the Cray 2 ?

        I don't think the XMP and YMP had so many windows into the workings though.

        1. Mel Bournian

          Re: Upholstery

          The XMP had upholstered seats - actually they covered up the boxes that housed the power supplies etc. The YMP still had the same approach but didn't have nice comfy upholstery on the "seats" just painted metal.

          Little know fact (urban myth perhaps) about the immersion cooling systems is the flurocarbon could in theory decompose at high temerature to form PFIBs, which were supposedly toxic by inhallation in ppb concentrations. So in principle a short circuit in all those old circuit boards could cause this to happen. This was one reason Cray moved to the use of "cold plates" between the circuit boards on the YMP.

          Still a really sexy design though.

        2. jaysel

          Re: Upholstery

          They all had seating around them. I worked on a Cray 1 and used to sleep on it on night shift!

    2. NumptyScrub

      Re: WHAT!

      quote: "And the inclusion of the PS3 is laughable, as that's not even a computer in the most traditional sense."

      I'd have to disagree, it has all the same bits, doing the same functions (CPU, GPU, IO, volatile and non-volatile storage). It runs a base operating system with a GUI, from which you can start seperate programs based on the task you wish to perform. You are, I'd hazard, equating the OS with "not computer" rather than the hardware, in response to an article about hardware design.

      Even then, console OSs these days have web browsers, IM clients, streaming media services and many other applications that grace the default "computer" OSs. They don't have productivity suites, however that's because nobody [i]has[/i] written one, not because nobody could; the PS3 will recognise USB keyboards ok, and the controller has analogue input that can mimic a mouse / trackpad ;)

      Also before Sony nerfed it, you could install Linux on a PS3. I'm pretty sure most people would agree that "hardware running Linux" = computer in that sense ;)

      1. Jordan Davenport

        Re: WHAT!

        The PS3 also accepts mouse input quite well (though very few games support it) and supports network printers, even without OtherOS.

    3. Acme Fixer

      Re: WHAT!

      Having had experience with the 4361, I would say that anyone with a soft spot for IBM should reevaluate their senses.

  4. Sonny Jim

    Another design feature of the Crays

    The C-shaped design was all to do with making the signal paths shorter, so they could run quicker. Very interesting guy and it's a real shame he isn't still around.

  5. Stoneshop


    The C128 is just one of those many system-in-a-large-keyboard home micros, albeit slightly flatter than most.

    If you want sexy, this is one: the Holborn

    1. David Given

      Re: Bah

      Oh, wow. That's... uh... very... um...

      Why am I getting Dr. Seuss flashbacks?

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Bah

      Nice. All you need is Gerry Anderson and his wife to get up the operators in silver costumes, and you've got a set for UFO.

    3. Z-Eden

      Re: Bah

      Looking at that, I had to do a double take and wonder if I was seeing a still of Martin Landau in Space: 1999

    4. Barry Dingle

      Re: Bah

      And the ad just happens to feature a young Helen Mirren at the keyboard. That IS sexy.

    5. Blah Blah

      Re: Bah

      Oh god, I want one

      Is that Lady Di?

    6. Galvinized Steel

      Talking about keyboards .... How about the IBM 701C

      Although it looked alot like other early Thinkpads, the 701 had the Butterfly keyboard that folded up when closed so you got a full sized keyboard in a 10 inch horizontal clamshell. Very useful and unique .... a precursor to the netbook in a way.

      Of course when the color screens got larger and less expensive, the laptops grew to a larger size anyway, but the 701C was a great small laptop.

    7. Felix Krull

      Re: Bah

      I followed your link and now I won't be able to have an erection for a month! If my mother-in-law was a computer, she'd be a Holborn.

    8. mickey mouse the fith

      Re: Bah

      Wow!, how awsome, THAT is how to design a sweet looking computer. It looks way cooler than anything Apple`s ever done.

      Imagine retrofitting that case with modern components.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The PS3 Slim is far better than the PS3 bargain bucket version IMO. Mainly for the cheap quality. If this is about looks, then the quality of the build has a definite value (less wobble and peeling of trim).

    The original PS3 was not too bad, just far to over the top.

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      I own a slim but I've always wanted the full fat version with the PS2 compatibility since my PS2 crapped out a couple of years ago.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Thinking Machines

    Enough of the cheap, plasticky tat. A real computer is too heavy to lift. Although there's a Cray in the list, nothing beats a Thinking Machines Corp. product for sheer cool.

    (Except maybe, watching a StorageTek tape robot doing its thing at full whack.)

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: Thinking Machines

      One site I occasionally visited to kick their hardware had a StorageTek setup consisting of two (octogonal) silos, with tapes being passed between them through a hatch (only one of the silos had tape drives installed, the other was just expansion space). Tape barcodes were read using video cams on the gripper mechanism, and for amusement value they had monitors connected to them. Seeing the grippers pass a tape between them was fascinating.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      Re: Thinking Machines

      Oh yes! We had a CM-5 in our computer centre. That was seriously cool. The Cray J-932 right next to it mainly had an ultra-cool power led (rectangular, 1 x 10 cm or so affair), but the CM-5 looked like it would fit in in the higher budget class of SF movie.

      The Elan Enterprise brings back memories, I used to have an Enterprise 128 as a kid. These had a nifty expansion slot at the side which allowed all sorts of people (students too) to build their own extensions (I once saw a working (!!) home-brew 4MB hard drive attached to one). It was a lot easier to get on with than the CDC-6600 (aka Cyber 74) on which I did my first computer practicals.

      Is there no nostalgia icon?

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: Thinking Machines

        "It was a lot easier to get on with than the CDC-6600 (aka Cyber 74) on which I did my first computer practicals."

        My (required) assembly language course would normally have been on PDP-11s in the Computer Science lab. As EE students, we were guests, which meant we would get secondary access (i.e.: early morning) to the machines. But the semester I was to take the course, we had a one-time opportunity to use the newly installed Cyber-74. The course was taught by a guest lecturer, a CDC software engineer we got as part of the machine purchase (actually, I think we go it used when someone else upgraded).

        Anyhow, I learned assembly programming on a machine with a 60 bit word, hardware floating point and was introduced to the "count bits" instruction. Totally useless to me in my future career, but fun, nonetheless. As was watching the vector graphics operator's console and distributing the contents of the card punch chad box among the underwear of a particularly obnoxious neighbour in my residence hall.

        As a graduate student, I was able to take the PDP-11 assembly language course during a summer job at Digital, so I didn't miss out.

  8. Piro Silver badge

    PS3? The George Foreman Grill?

    Yeah, I wouldn't put that in there.

    What about some Sun kit? Some SGI kit? When everything had crazy designs.

    The one that really gets me going in this line up is the Cray stuff - they had mental looking designs, fluid immersion, a real monolithic look and feel.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: PS3? The George Foreman Grill?

      I'd forgotten about all those Cray advertisements that were in the piles of old National Geographic magazines I was bought up with. The adverts stated that they were supercomputers, but they always looked like modernist furniture.

      There are a range of products and brands I'll always associate with that magazine and era: Rolex, SLRs (usually pictured next to a marble chess set and a whisky glass), Seiko digital watches, Datsun, Betamax VCRs, Wildlife as Canon sees it, BMW, various airlines...

  9. LinkOfHyrule

    Some of these inclusions are...

    ...all fur-coat and no floating point coprocessor! You should have included the motherboards so we could judge them on their inner beauty too!

    Chauvinist pigs!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some of these inclusions are...

      You are the ghost of Steve Jobs and I claim my £5!


      1. LinkOfHyrule

        Re: Some of these inclusions are...

        You've got me worried now that I might be possessed by him - no wonder I was considering buying a black polo neck the other day!

  10. Captain Hogwash


    1970s futurism at its finest!

    1. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      Re: PET/CBM

      The PET has always been my favourite case design, right up to the present day. There was something innately "Buck Rogers-ish" about the trapezoidal shape of the monitor housing, and it was all angles and lines and chunky solid shapes. Remove the green-screen CRT and replace it with a modern flat-screen and it still wouldn't look out of place in any sci-fi show you'd care to name!

    2. trog-oz

      Motorola PowerStack

      Little known but damn sexy, looking like a high end 80's hi-fi system. PowerPC 604 processors too! What;s not to like.

  11. Amonynous

    Wot no SGI?

    Can't beleive you're including stuff like the PS3 (just another black box under the TV alongside everything else with a Sony badge on it) and not including SGI gems like the Indigo, Indy, Onyx, etc. In a time still dominated by the beige box, they were anything but.

    I especially liked the Indy, since the case split and opened along the main diagonal slice. It was form and function in harmony vs. the usual process of asking a collague to kneel on a cheap pressed steel case so that you could align the screw-holes and put it back together.

    1. MrT

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      I used an Indigo back in about '94 - it even looked better on screen.

      It always made me wonder when this amazing system was sat in the same office as a brace of early 486 PCs that it got mostly ignored in favour of Windows 3.11, even for some of the more intense QSAR and modelling stuff for which it was bought.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: Wot no SGI?

        PS3 did look "wife friendly" though. She wasnt too chuffed about the big beige fan ridden XBMC to being with either so I needed a proper case.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      I was thinking the same. We used to have loads of Indigo's and Onyx back in the late 90's, really cool looking. Started to phase out SGI and replaced them with Sun Ultra 10 and 60's which has since been replaced by DELL Precision workstations run Linux. Also rememeber going to UWE to see Silicon Graphics demo the SGI Visual worksation running NT4

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wot no SGI?

        we also had an SGI O2 just the one I think

    3. mamsey

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      'I especially liked the Indy, since the case split and opened along the main diagonal slice'

      Did it? I never saw one that did...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wot no SGI?

        we had a few indy's a bright blue/green colour desktop design if I rememebr right

      2. Shonko Kid

        Re: Wot no SGI?

        No it doesn't, at least the 3 I have don't. Doesn't stop them looking damn good though!

    4. Peter Simpson 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      Have a working Indigo on my desk.

      Had been used as a footrest for 10 yrs before I resurrected it.

      //adapters for VGA, Ethernet and PC keyboard/mouse

      //missing the disk bay door, though

    5. James R Grinter

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      My indy didn't (and still doesn't... I've still got it, though no monitor) split along the diagonal slice. The entire plastic lid is one single moulding, on top of a steel box. I've never seen any as you describe.

      It does look good, though the later O2 probably had the edge.

    6. goldcd

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      I was flicking through looking for SGI stuff - no O2?

      So pretty and all modular.

    7. Ramazan

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      You seem to forget that sex is something almost everybody can have, even being as ugly as ... SGI doesn't count as sexy toy therefore.

    8. Joe Montana

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      The indy looked like it should open along the diagonal slice, but alas the top was simply moulded plastic and it slid off like the lid of any other desktop of the day.

      The Octane was actually far more modular, and easier to service than the indy while still looking pretty cool. I still have one in my garage that sees occasional use, it was my main workstation for many years.

    9. Erwin Hofmann

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      ... ah, the good, old SGI Indigo ... that clumsy, though functional, design would still give my dehumidifier a run for the money ... I kind of agree with Apples MacBook Air being a fine design (not very original but, again, functional and most certainly very challenging) ... I personally hate the black keyboard ... so, her we go again: "You can't argue about taste" ... rewording a toaster (Apple Power Mac G4 Cube) second place is, without arguing, ridiculous ... but hey I'm just glad the classic Macintosh didn't get mentioned. Oh, from that time, one of my all time favorite, not mentioned here either, is the Atari ST ... which, by the way, was the first home computer with integrated MIDI support and, thanks, to this was able to run music-sequencer software and controlling musical instruments.

    10. Kennelly

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      The O2 is the one I remember. BT liked its sexy curves so much they named their spin-off mobile company after it. (May not be true). Also, wot no Bondi blue G3 iMac?

      1. markw:

        Re: Wot no SGI?

        I remember the O2 had the cheapest looking and most flimsy CD drive of any computer that I've ever come across.

    11. MrHorizontal

      Re: Wot no SGI?

      Totally agree with SGI. Replace the NeXT borg cube with any of the SGI's: Indy, Octane, Onyx.

      And the PS3? It looks about as interesting as corrugated iron and is too fat, overweight, and hot.

      Then you have the Tandem's with their huge size and the KITT heartbeat monitor on them.

      But the absolute sacrilege? Not putting Bletchley Park's Colossus on the list. Not only one of the first computers, it still looks better than any pimped out gaming rig with all of those glowing valves...

  12. David Paul Morgan

    an interesting selection

    but primarily home machines.

    I always quite like the ICL Series 39 here...

    and the Trimetra (running VME, Unixware & WinNT in virtual partitions) here...

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Re: an interesting selection

      Sexy? Well, we thought that the updates to VME that came with the Series 39 were sexy but I've always thought of the ICL boxes as looking more purposeful than sexy. The Trimetras are too redolent of missed opportunities these days; lovely looking boxes, but all replaced by nondescript racked servers. Those Cray boxes, however, are still pure filth. Mmmmmmmm ....

  13. Homer 1
    Paris Hilton

    If you're going to include games consoles...

    Then you may as well include smartphones too.

    I vote for the Sammy SGS3.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: If you're going to include games consoles...

      to be fair the PS3 would let you natively run linux on it too (until they patched it out of course).

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: If you're going to include games consoles...

        Okay, your point holds- you can connect a mouse, keyboard, local storage and an external monitor to both the PS3 and SG3 to satisfy some definition of 'computer', but personally I find the SGS3 to be a little generic-looking to be featured in a 'top ten sexy' list.

        Curiously, the original Playstation was a deliberate homage by the Sony Design Centre to Frog Design's work for Apple... especially the use of grill-like lines in the casing. Frog have worked with Sony in the past though, since they worked with Wega before Sony bought it. And having just looked at their site, I see they designed my first ever mouse, a Logitech that came with an Olivetti 8086.

        I visited their NY studio once, and on display was a 90s-era black cast-magnesium PC case with the same ridges... only this time more functional as the case itself would act as a heatsink. I can't remember who the client was, I think I just assumed it was IBM.

  14. Conrad Longmore
    Thumb Up

    I seem to recall..

    I seem to recall that one of the Crays had optional leather seats that could be arranged around the core.

    I always thought the the ZX80 was the best looking Sinclair, but there was certainly some inspired design in there.

    Some other ones perhaps:

    * The Lilith -

    * GRiD Compass -

    * Apricot Xi -

    1. jason 7

      Re: I seem to recall..

      I always used to love the look of the Apricot F1. They used to have them in Dixons.

      Never saw anyone buy one. Was a sexy looking machine.

      1. badger31

        Re: I seem to recall..

        Wow! The Apricot F1 had a HUGE keyboard :-)

        1. Andrew Baines Silver badge

          My 2nd Comptuer was an Apricot

          Bit of a shock of a ZX Spectrum - my Dad won one in a trade show. In the end swapped it for a BBC Model B with every piece of software imaginable.

          Nice to have played with a proper computer, but my 15 year old self had no idea what to do with it!

      2. MrTivo

        Re: I seem to recall..

        Surely the Apricot (not at all) Portable was their best looking machine. Infra red link from the keyboard to the base station/screen, or light pipe if you had too much paper in the way.

        Always wanted to own one of these.

        Not sure the Siri-like microphone ever worked that well though.

        Still have an original Apricot though.

        1. Chris Holt

          Re: I seem to recall..

          I still have one somewhere....they were amazing for 1985 or whatever it was. IR keyboard and voice, when most PCs didnt have anything like that. It kind of worked too, the only only thing that used to drive me nuts was that it would only boot after a while in my loft after a lot of hitting, I never did discover why. Worked fine once it booted once.

          Didnt realise they were so expensive, hope I didn't throw it in the skip a few years ago when I moved!

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I seem to recall..

        I always used to love the look of the Apricot F1."

        Yes, very nice at the time. Handy for formatting many floppies as one IR keyboard could control as many F1's as you could get on the desk. Well, 3 or 4 was a practical limit.

        The number keypad also acted as a stand-alone calculator too with a "send" button that sent the result as a series of keypresses to whatever program you were running at the current cursor position. Not sure if the F1 k/b had the LCD display of if that was one other models.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: I seem to recall..

      I'm sure I remember hearing that another Cray feature was that they'd provide it with the panels and seating in any colour that you wanted.

      There was a possibly apocryphal story circulating at the time that some university professor ordered one in "nipple pink". When Cray asked exactly what colour that was, they got a polaroid of the bloke's girlfriend's tit by return, with the appropriate section circled and a helpful arrow pointing at it and labelled "this colour"[1].

      [1] Or rather "color". It was a Yank story.

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I seem to recall..

      GRiD Compass featured in Aliens (Special Edition) to control the automatic sentry guns:

      I also quite liked the Atari Portfolio, as used in Terminator 2 by John Conner get money from an ATM.

    4. Gavin 2

      Re: I seem to recall..

      The cray did have seats around the core.

      My first IT job was a PFY for Rutherford Appleton labs with 5 other PFY's. We got shown around the whole computer centre, one of the other PFY's decided to sit on those nice leather seats and kick his heals against the underside, before being asked stop as he was kicking a rather expense machine. None of us had clue what it was then.

  15. jubtastic1

    SGi made some sexy looking boxes back in the day, in funky colours as well, do an image search for SGI for examples.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    you forgot!

    The worlds sexiest computer is the Porsche-designed Commodore PET. It's all soft curves and smooth surfaces - just like Paris H.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: you forgot!

      Pic here for those who don't know it:

      Case design was based on the ealier 700/B series:

      1. Uncle Slacky
        Thumb Up

        Re: you forgot!

        I used to have one of those - unfortunately it was too big and heavy, so it went to the skip in about 1993.

      2. /dev/null

        Re: you forgot!

        According to this page, the super-sexy Commodore CBM-II series cases weren't actually designed by Porsche Design, but by a chap by the name of Ira Velinski.

        1. MrTivo

          Re: you forgot!

          I have a P-500. Supposedly a prototype, but there are quite a few collectors who have them. Not that sexy really. Now the Psion 3x and 5 series.........

      3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: you forgot!

        I'm sure I still have a picture in the 1976 "Electronics Tomorrow" special edition of the magazine Electronics Today International (the one that also had pre-release articles about Star Wars) of a PET 2001 prototype that was curvy.

        When the production PETs came out, I thought the steel case and chiclet keys were just plain ugly, although that did not stop a group of us on the college staff-student consultative committee from trying to get one bought for the college. Unfortunately (for us), the council voted for a mini-bus instead. In hindsight, that was probably the best choice, but it did not seem so at the time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you forgot!

      And plastic - just like Paris H.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Silicon Graphics Indigo

    A beautifully simple design, incredibly well made (IIRC they were made in Switzerland).

    Not cheap, but that's not really the point here.

  18. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Making connections

    How could you omit the Connection Machine CM1 with a full Data Vault parallel data store. A huge cube with 65,000 flashing LEDs surrounded by a completely circular storage unit - it couldn't have been sexier.

  19. Torben Mogensen


    Though, sadly, it never went into production, I found Acorn's Phoebe design quite distinctive.

    I also liked the design of the Newbrain:

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Phoebe

      Well, you couldn't lose that under the desk, could you!

  20. cortland


    And what of the Dynalogic Hyperion? I had one for a while, a very nice package, though of

    sadly limited compatibility.

  21. Timbo

    obviously, we're talking about REAL computers, so the omission of the SGI Indigo and Cobalt Networks RAQ's is a shame......and I did have a soft spot for the Atari ST...

    personally, I always thought the computers used in "Time Tunnel/Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea/Lost in Space" TV series were wonderful, full of flashing lights and whirling tape drives.... :)

    1. S4qFBxkFFg
      Thumb Up

      (mainly for Frontier: Elite II, if you wanted to know)

      Another one with fond memories of the ST here - it appeared monolithically indestructible to my young self and if it had had an analogue joystick and more CPU grunt I'd probably still be playing it.

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      Re: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea/Lost in Space

      I seem to recall that most of these computers shorted out dramatically every time the flimsy ship rocked.

  22. Anonymous Coward 15

    Needs moar SGI Tezro.

  23. corestore

    You missed the best...

    I am shocked and unimpressed.

    How can you have any list of 'ten sexiest computers' without the Connection Machine at the top of it?!

    (and perhaps an honourable mention for something *very* obscure; the Panda Archistrat: )


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Panda Archistrat

      Looks like a disposal container for feminine hygiene products.

  24. Justin Stringfellow

    original cray was better

    I nearly cried when I saw the Cray-1 in the London Science Museum - just perfect.

    Suprised there's no Sun kit in here (disclaimer: I'm ex-Sun..)

    I thought the E10K was good, and the sun4m and dinnerbox chassis machines (IPC/IPX/Classic) were good too.

    The mac stuff looks nice but it's form over function - fewer ports, non removable batteries etc.

    1. /dev/null

      Re: original cray was better

      There were quite a few Cray machines that were visually quite striking, before they ended up in plain ornery 42U racks like everything else.

      Check out the C916 or the T916 for instance.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: original cray was better

      >The mac stuff looks nice but it's form over function - fewer ports, non removable batteries etc.

      When Apple did do removable batteries, they did them well (each had a little button that showed its charge level through some LEDs).

      Anyway, replacing a battery is not a weekly operation - some greater inconvenience every four years is for some a fair trade-off if it means the thing is lighter to carry every day. Design, like engineering, is a succession of compromises.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        swapping batteries

        " replacing a battery is not a weekly operation - "

        No, it would be a twice-daily operation for field workers. If current models allowed removable batteries, it still would be.

        Before Jobs made them sealed units, Mac laptops used to have a very useful "warm-swap" feature: put the computer to sleep, and you could pop the battery out for up to 10-15 seconds without affecting the RAM. Makes it very easy to swap batteries and continue working.

        That, and their low power consumption meant that packing one or two spare batteries could get you a full day's use of a laptop far away from any power source (very useful for long-haul business travel with long stopovers).

        Design isn't just about what a product looks like. Apple used to make well-designed products; these days their stuff only *looks* well designed...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good try...

    These "top 10" lists are usually on a bit of a "sticky wicket" (perhaps understandably, people will almost always disagree with the choices), but I think this is a pretty decent attempt :-)

    For myself, I'd probably substitute the Cube with an iMac G4 - now THAT was a design I liked (the one with the "anglepoise lamp" display). I prefer it to the later iMacs (one of which we own at home), as sometimes you just want to reposition the screen a bit more radically than the later iMacs allow.

    Never understood why the iMac G4 design didn't last - was it a flop, unreliable, etc.?

    Oh, and I've always had a soft spot for the Cray-1 - if I were more creative, I'd want to build a tiny replica as a case for my Raspberry Pi (which ISTR someone said has more power in some respects than a Cray-1 did)...

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Good try...

      No, no, no, no! You should build a full-sized replica of a cray, along with flashing lights and seat. Then have a single Raspberry Pi sitting there, hovering on its own in the centre. Pointless and stupid I admit, and would take up loads of space, but would at least give you one very uncomfortable sofa on which to seat any visitors you don't like too much...

    2. Armando 123

      Re: Good try...

      Love the iMac G4. We have two that are still ticking along quite happily, and still allow us to play Baldur's Gate (I and II) and the first Neverwinter Nights. When I got mine, I showed it to my then-boss, and he was stunned that the whole computer was in the gumdrop base.

      Some people deride its looks, but it actually has a personality, with the swivel arm and adjustable screen. Plus it's quiet, since the fan rarely runs thanks to the the design to allow natural convection. Reliable as hell, too.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Good try...

        >Never understood why the iMac G4 design didn't last - was it a flop, unreliable, etc.?

        The article cited a dodgy power switch and production problems with the case.... but it was also said that some people (pointy-haired bosses?) would place paperwork on top of it and thus block its vents.

        Another reason is that it was pricer than the Mac Pros at the time, and less upgradable.

        I liked the way the Cube was designed around the thermal considerations- having the motherboard arranged to form a chimney to encourage air convection was a good idea. The other obviously good idea (even to tech-illiterate PHBs, who shout 'Who will rid me of this snake's nest of cables on my desk?!") was the single cable from the Cube to the monitor, carrying video signal, power, audio and USB- the latter daisy-chained to the keyboard and onto the mouse.

  26. David 138


    Macbook air isn't really that sexy. its just a thin piece of metal which doesn't really have any design to it what so ever, other than being thin. Its like saying a skeleton is sexy because there is 0 fat. I would accept the MacBook Pro over that as it actually took time to design. I would put most vaio z series over both of those.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Air?

      “Perfection is achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Air?

      > doesn't really have any design to it what so ever

      It is because so many wrongly take 'design' to only refer to the appearance of things that Dieter Rams prefers the the term (translated into English) 'Form Engineering'.

      'Design' should mean no less than the consideration of every aspect of the product, from engineering, ergonomics, aesthetics, storage, disposal, marketing.... the works.

      1. imaginarynumber

        Re: Air?

        And durability? If so the iphone wont be included in the Sexiest Phones of all time...

  27. jb99

    First two were apple

    So I didn't bother to read the rest. Apple stuff is just horrible, I assume the rest of the list is equally so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First two were apple

      You must be blind. No-one can genuinely say a Macbook Air is 'ugly' compared to most laptops - you might not like Apple but that's not the issue - if it said HP or Dell on the back you would probably love it?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: First two were apple

        So you posted to say that you chose to be deliberately ignorant, and then expect your opinion based on assumptions to count for anything? Okay...

    2. Armando 123

      Re: First two were apple

      "Apple stuff is just horrible,"

      I realize this is probably flame-bait, but I can tell you from personal experience that Apple hardware, while not perfect, is pretty darn good. I'm trying to think of the man-years my Macs have run in useful service, and it has to be more than sixty. I recently sent my Performa 631-CD, from 1995, to a recycler, but it still ran fine with no hitch. The only problem I've had is that one fan bearing went bad after about 7 years of heavy use, a couple mice got worn out after that amount of time, and an original (mac-only, Firewire-only) iPod's battery has gone phut after ten years.

      You can call them overpriced, but I've found them damn reliable and trouble-free, and surely that is worth something (unless your time is worthless).

      I wish my Wintel junk I've been given for work were that horrible ...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Of the Macs, the original compacts (128 up to Classic 2 / Color Classic) would be worth a mention. Then their spiritual successor, the iMac G3/4.

    Mac Mini G4. Took the cube, made it smaller.

    And, without meaning to sound like an Apple fanboy, the Twentieth Anniversary Mac, which effectively previewed the iMac flat panel.

    The C64 facelift in C128 style was a nice machine.

    I own, and have owned, various consoles. The PS3 slim is reminiscent of the PS2 slim, though the sliding drive cover does feel like it could fail at some point. The Xbox 360 is a bit of an ignorant slab design, though the face panels offer a little in the way of customisation. I'd say the Wii would be the best looking box under the TV if it was in black, and lying horizontally. Compact yet still has the Gamecube ports on the side.

    Other candidates:

    The IBM PC110 was like a shrunken Thinkpad.

    The Packard Bell 'corner' desktop from the 90s, solved the problem of huge desktop/monitor combinations on small desks by being designed to be placed in a corner, with the keyboard/mouse to the side. (A common setup back then!).

  29. MoleStrangler

    Ah! blast from the past, I loved my Elan (Or Flan) Enterprise. Owned a Specie and ZX80. Would have liked a Next box but too expensive and

    Never owned a Cray but enjoyed using their X-MP, I think the X-MP and Y-MP are far sexier with the seats.

    Like others, wondering why the PS3 is in the list.

    And why the C128, why no the A1000? Maybe not from looking at (like the C128) it but the OS was so far out there when compared with anything else on the market at the time.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    Surely the Three Rivers/ICL PERQ deserves a plan on the list?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I began to think I was the only person who had seen one. Unbelievable at the time and unaffordable for the lab where I worked. Lovely.

      1. corestore

        Re: PERQ

        Seen one? I've got two: a 1 and a 2:


    2. /dev/null

      But which?

      PERQ-1 or PERQ-2? Or PERQ-3 for that matter? Not sure any of them were particularly sexy (unless you have a thing for chocolate-brown fascias...)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The blinking LED array on the Meiko Computing Surface were a highlight, never have meaningless LEDs on a server been better implemented.

  32. Shonko Kid

    Why no SGI love?

    While I was getting revved up to raise merry hell if you'd not included the ZX Spectrum, I too have to echo the above about a lack of SGI entry - or was it just that pretty much everything they built was sexy as hell?

    SGI's look so good people even use them as housings for the mundane, look for the Onyx/Challenge Fridge, the rOctane, or my personal favourite, the Espressigo.

  33. Andrew Moore

    No Psions?

    The Series 3 and 5 should have been on the list, both beautiful pieces of miniature kit (with usable keyboards)

    1. 27escape
      Thumb Up

      Re: No Psions?

      The series 3 was a fantastic design, I would have one again if it had an android phone in it

      1. Berks Biker

        Re: No Psions?

        Quite. I still use a Psion 3mx as my every day PDA, diary, and address book, the some of the latter is now on Google as I've an Android phone.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Psions?

      While I agree with you about the Series 3 and 5 looked awesome, sadly both had massive design flaws in the hinges. I reckon my 3a went back 3 times in a year for new hinges, and my series 5 went back twice.

      You can have clever designs that look gorgeous, but the real test is if they spontaneously combust if you as much dare look at them. Which is a shame because boy did I love my 3a (the 5 I could take or leave).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No Psions?

        adly both had massive design flaws in the hinges

        That, and the ribbon connecting the screen through that hinge. (I worked as service engineer there :) )..

    3. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      And Sony Clie?

      Yes, although I do struggle a bit with the idea of finding a computer sexually arousing. But OK, I'll play along.

      The handheld computer I liked most was the Palm derived Sony Clie, specifically the NX70 series

      It was ahead of its time (already did video recording), was damn useful once you installed a decent calendar app and small in the way Apple made its name with a couple of years later. It was genius. As a matter of fact, I have been toying a while back with digging one up on eBay, but by now the batteries must be all but dead.

      Which brings me back to especially the S3 - it ran on 2 AA cells. Never a problem buying those when you travel..

    4. garbo
      Thumb Up

      Re: No Psions?

      What, no Psion netBook??!! Touch screen, Thinkpad-equaling keyboard, 12 hr battery, in 1999! Still use mine, though for mainly sentimental reasons.

  34. Bassey

    you guys are weird

    I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that but cubes? Sexy? Seriously? When was the last time you saw a woman as wide and deep as she was tall and thought to yourself "Mmm, sexy!"? And as for the PS3 bread bin...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: you guys are weird

      >> And as for the PS3 bread bin...

      You also have to factor in here that Sony, from the off, quite deliberately marketed the PS3 as an all-round entertainment device rather than "just" a games console.

      Which makes having a design that stacks into a cabinet with your A/V amp, VCR, etc. in the same way that square pegs fit round holes even more daft.

      I suppose that's what you get for letting designers loose on something while forgetting to include "practicality" on the requirements list.

  35. Valeyard


    Out of the C64/speccy (of which the +3 looked the best IMO) i think the Amstrad CPC464 looked the best, maybe because I was about 10 at the time (I owned em all, all 2nd hand like but still) and it was by the far the best-looking. Build-in tapedeck and nice colured and organised keys

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: CPC464

      The 6128 was the best of the CPC's. Amstrad had refined the keyboard and slimmed the entire thing down. They also printed the colour chart on the disc drive which FASCINATED me as a kid. Also gave you bragging rights as it listed the CPC's 27 colours which was good ammo to wind up visiting Spectrum and C64 owners.

  36. 45RPM Silver badge

    Ten is not enough

    The problem with this article is that ten just isn't enough to celebrate good design. The original ThinkPad really deserves recognition, arguably even more than the MacBook Air does (and I think that the Air is one of the finest laptops available today). The Apple II, original Mac and the first iMac are more deserving of a place than the Cube. The C128 certainly doesn't deserve plaudits - just another beige wedge (and I'd have given the Beige Wedge prize to the Atari ST) - and leaving it out would have made space for the Psion Organiser or the original Palm Pilot. What about the AgendA? No room? Of course there was no room! The PlayStation got an undeserving mention. Mention that might better have been given to the NES, or the Atari VCS. And what about the Grid Compass? Far better in terms of design than the Spectrum…

    Ah well, it's a divisive subject I suppose.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, the NeXT

    The thing about the NeXT cube was not only the box, which sat there growling wonderfully at you from its SCSI disk, but also the screen and even the design of the printer. All utterly wonderful and oh, so out of reach. I was fortunate (no really - they were different times) to sit through a demo by Jobs of the NeXT in London in 1990, and the cube as a development station really was astonishing. I recall, at that conference, Gates was on after Jobs. He came on and simply said "Wow. How can you follow that?" How indeed.

  38. ForthIsNotDead

    Wot? No Atari ST?

    Surely you jest sir? The Atari ST (especially the 1040 ST/STFM with it's longer back end (longer than the *original* stubby looking 520ST) was just goooooooooooooooooooorgeous! :-)

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Wot? No Atari ST?

      Yeah, I always thought the ST was better looking, especially the parallelogram function keys.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. TeeCee Gold badge

    Ho hum.

    It's black

    it's square

    sits under that desk over there

    NeXT cuuube

    NeXT cuuube....

  41. Joc

    To throw an odd one in there

    The Pixar Image Computer - ok, technically it probably doesn't belong on this list as its not a standalone machine, but damn i wanted one in its day !

    Could it be the inspiration for Mr Jobs' later cube fetish?

  42. harimanjaro

    HP9845B for me

    Seventeen years old, my first programming job, and they plonk me in front of an HP9845B. Love at first sight, and over thirty years later I still think they're beautiful.

  43. Christian Berger

    Another fairly lazy article

    Just picking up some old computers fairly at random, missing some iconic ones.

    Like the Connection Machines, known for having thousands of little processors each one with their own LED. Or the later multiprocessor Crays which used a Macbook in their case to display a spinning Cray logo.

    Or that Hungarian computer which looked like a sewing machine.

  44. Crisp

    I love the look of that Elan machine! How did I miss that first time around?

    I'd worry about it's evil twin Nale coming to get it though.

  45. Peter Simpson 1

    Digital's PDPs

    For those who are fans of brighter colors and bolder designs.

    Real Computers have switches and lights.

    //used to work at Data General, where the carpeting was bright orange

  46. Aragorn


    What - no IBM 1401?

  47. Anonymous Coward

    To quote the BOFH ...

    "A REAL computer has ONE speed and the only powersaving it permits is when you pull the power leads out of the back!" I blurt. "In fact, a REAL computer would have a hole in the front to push trees into and an exhaust pipe out the back for the black smoke to come out of."

    None of the 'top 10' really fit the bill. OK, maybe the Cray ....

  48. adam payne
    Thumb Up

    The ZX Spectrum, helping nerds and geeks get laid since 1982.

    1. Toothpick

      The ZX Spectrum, not helping nerds and geeks get laid since 1982.


      1. Steven Roper

        The ZX Spectrum, helping nerds and geeks not get laid since 1982.


  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd add Macbook Pro Retina 13" although most of the unibody MacBooks would qualify.

    Would add the iMacs but it's not really identifiable as a 'computer' any more - just a good looking monitor.

  50. MJI Silver badge


    I do think Cray make a very good looking supercomputer.

    PS3 superslim - just no, I think they look cack.

    The original PS3 looked much better, the slim however runs cooler and is less likely to YLOD.

  51. Toxteth O'Gravy

    Cute... but not so very different from a thousand and one other mini-towers.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You have made me realise why I love my Vaio so much.

    It looks the same as the Speccy!

  53. Chris Weatherby

    HP 9000/712

    The HP9000/712 -- a truely beautiful slimine unit, either for the desktop, or to lose somewhere underneath, a wonderful network workstation , and for the time powerful enough to do its own thing .

  54. ElNumbre
    Thumb Up


    As much as I have apathy for Apple's software, the design of their computers since the late 90's has been something to behold. I love the G4 Cube, its a shame there's no x86 based version (other than some unofficial hack jobs).

    Id like to see what Dyson could come up with if they set their mind to computer design.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dyson

      "Id like to see what Dyson could come up with if they set their mind to computer design."

      Nah .... it'd suck.

      1. ElNumbre
        Thumb Up

        Re: Dyson

        I suspect it could also blow, depending on what they go for.

  55. Juillen 1

    I was really fond

    Of the look of my old Apricot Qi 300 PC (my first proper PC, after coming up through the ranks of the ZX80,81, VIC 20, BBC B).. It won me a few contracts in the day because of the built in security (infrared key card and security chip on board that prevented anything working unless you authenticated using the key, as long as you had it enabled)... It looked pretty neat too!

  56. John Savard

    Amstrad PPC 640

    I think that the Amstrad PPC 640 deserves an honorable mention here, looking like something out of Space: 1999.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amstrad PPC 640

      That's another Rick Dickenson special IIRC. Because of the complexity of designing the portable computer, Sugar was talked into using a top notch industrial designer.

      Pity Dickenson wasn't around for the PCW. A lovely machine that was a superb Word Processor (arguably better than PC's 3 or 4 times its price for word crunching, but was pig ugly.

  57. brakepad

    Psion Series 3

    Definitely should be in the list. The Series 3 was beautifully constructed with a sligthly dappled & tactile textured exterior & clearly lots of thought put into the ergonomics.

    The Series 5 had the more impressive slide-out keyboard but was substantially bigger, more plasticky and felt like one too many designers had had their input.

  58. cjstephen

    Sun workstations

    No mention of any Sun workstations? Either the clean-lined, architectural slab of the so called "pizza box" Sparcstation or the tower style Ultra just felt so much more elegant, substantial and cool than their tacky x86 cousins.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Sun workstations

      The 1989 SPARCstation- that was Frog Design again.

  59. Fishy


    None of these are sexy, they are all boxes with electronic gubbins that you can't see working. A difference engine, or an analytical engine are sexy.

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Mechanical

      Being hard-wired it doesn't quite fit with the theme,

      but watching a bank of Bombes at Bletchley Park whirring away to find a solution is poetry in motion.

  60. Rabid

    Thinking Machines CM200

    CM200 - The only sexy computer ever made?

  61. deMangler

    Personally I prefer brutalist computer design. I loved the BBC MIcro.

    Not my thing, but does anyone remember the Goupil Golf?

    Not sure if sexy is the word, but it was french.

  62. Andrew Newstead


    The Macintosh LC 475, another pizza box of a desktop machine. I was completely taken by that design when I first saw it.

  63. cookieMonster Silver badge

    What about the BeBox...

    god I loved that computer and OS... (and still have it)

  64. Steve Evans

    Spectrum and ZX81 sexy?

    They looked exactly what they were... Cheap!

    Maybe that's how you define sexy...

  65. Tezfair
    Thumb Up

    Babbage's engine

    Best steampunk computer ever

  66. Dr_N

    No iMac ?

    Really? An icon of the internet era, I'd say.

    I did covet the Elan at the time.

    And the C128 although cool, wasn't as sexy as the B128 "headless" PET replacement.

    1. Dr_N

      Re: No iMac ?

      No "Original" iMac, that is. The Jeff Goldblum advertised one.

  67. Irongut

    Why isn't the Cray #1?

    The Cray is way sexier than a laptop that happens to be slimmer & shinier than other laptops but otherwise looks identical to every laptop ever produced.

    Any why is the NeXT cube there at all? It's just a cube ffs and not a very attractive one at that.

  68. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Original Alienware cases

    Maybe its just gamers, but I prefer the looks of most of the older Alienware cases to the ifads.

  69. Paul Curtis

    No Connection Machine?

    Gee, come on! Think Machines built some of the best looking computers. Sure, the Cray is nice, but Connection Machines are flippin awesome!

  70. Identity

    More omissions...

    The Macintosh 20th Anniversary and the BeBox

  71. Alain Moran

    Where is the QL?

    You list the ugly ZX-series but not the gorgeous QL ... are you mad?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    zx81 sexy?

    quick, call the mental health nurse

  73. FreeTard

    Two apples...

    ...yet no pie! Why not lads?

  74. Paul Hampson 1

    What no QL?

    I have a number of problems with this list:

    1) how can the mac book air win when it left ethernet and other connections. It doesn't look so sexy with all the necessary dongles hanging of it.

    2) The PS3 only if you work work the North Korean Airforce would you be desparate enough to include this a a "computer".

    3) What about the Sinclair QL (or at least the Spectrum+).

    There I feel better now.

  75. Mike Dunderdale

    What, no SGIs

    Agree with the other poster - I read the title and thought that at least the O2 should be in there. They were far more pioneering with form and elegance than most other manufacturers.

    And I still might get around to converting one of our older machines into an Espressigo..

  76. MrScott


    Where are all the geeks? Wasn't Eniac sexy? Look at all those tubes. "...17,468 vacuum tubes, 7,200 crystal diodes, 1,500 relays, 70,000 resistors, 10,000 capacitors and around 5 million hand-soldered joints. It weighed more than 30 short tons (27 t), was roughly 8 by 3 by 100 feet (2.4 m × 0.9 m × 30 m), took up 1800 square feet (167 m2), and consumed 150 kW of power.[11][12] . Just try and spill a soda on that!

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PS3 best looking? What about the Wussy Controller?

    "even the most eager Xbox aficionado ...has to concede that Sony has the best looking console."

    Best looking (or not) console aside, the PS3 still has the worst CONTROLLER IMHO.

    It feels like its been designed for a kid. It lacks weight or sturdiness or something.

    Moreover, for a long time after the launch good luck finding games that had Split-Screen...

  78. Crinoid

    Thinking machines got left out

    If you're after sexy machines, you can't forget Thinking machines with it's big light up panels show internal node activity...

  79. Outcast

    Wot No Amiga A3000T & 4000T ?

    Even the A1000 was a sexy bit of kit

  80. jpb421

    I always thought that the Sun Sparc workstations were the most aesthetically pleasing of the computers that I've worked with. Very slim but solid they seemed to match the philosophy of the RISC chips they contained.

  81. Himalayaman

    PS3? Lol?

  82. HCV
    Thumb Up

    TRS-80 Model I FTW

    The monitor was an RCA XL-100 television, spray-painted "Space Patrol Silver."

    The name plate covered up the holes where the channel knobs would normally have gone.

    The monitor cable came out of the hole where the vertical hold knob would have gone --with a "V" still prominently embossed above it.

    Jony Ive and frogdesign only *wish* they could have been this sleek and innovative in their design.

  83. FutureShock999
    Paris Hilton

    Nearly ANY 1990s supercomputer should make this list...

    As others have said, Thinking Machines CM-series (I used to work on a CM-5, we had it in our data center), Kendal Square Research KSR-1, Cray as mentioned, Oracle's nCube, , SGI - take your pick, Tandem Himalaya, MassPar, and who can forget Teradata with their early Y-net machines? They were all built in a day when these machines were HUGELY expensive, and had the looks and styling to match. Today's supers are just lines of equipment racks with blades or subchassis, and look like nothing special (that is why I omitted the IBM SP-series off this list, even though it was a contemporary). They are built to a competitive price, not to let you know that your data centre holds something special. But back in those days, machines LOOKED the part - something that could change the world and wanted you to know it visually. Compared to these, the PS3, and indeed most of this list just are not that sexy - I'll give you the Next and Apple cubes, but a lot of that list is fairly boring. For that matter, I think an IMSAI 8080 should have made the list too - who doesn't like paddles and lights?

    N.B. - When Thinking Machines went bankrupt, there were CM chassis literally picked out of their Cambridge, MA dumpsters, that had a retail price of hundreds of thousands of dollars... :-( I don't know where I would have stored it...but I wanted one. Sigh.

    Paris, because she knows all about the importance of "style"...

  84. Beachrider

    I have a picture of Steve Jobs in my pocket...

    Do you WANT to see it?

  85. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Wot, no ISC 3621

    Arguably the first (certainly ONE of the first) colour desktop computers.

    8088 based, with 16k (32k on the posh model) PROM, 32k RAM and 4k workspace

    CP/M operating system and a BASIC interpreter.

    8 colour display

    Graphics plotting on a 128H x128Vgrid (I laugh at your 1080p scans!)

    51k + 51k capacity 5 1/4" FDD

    And a nasty propensity for one of the PSU capacitors to wee electrolyte across a 100V track that was routed between its pins. Always made a very satisfying KZZZRRRTT!

    Had one of the nicest keyboard actions I have ever used.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Where... the Cobalt Qube 2? Easily way sexier than any slice of Apple you could offer.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Cobalt

      +1 for Cobalt machines. I also rather like some of the later Sun Ultra boxes like this one.

  87. wbw357

    Proof the Reg Fetishizes Computers Instead of Understanding Them!

    This article is proof the Reg fetishizes computers instead of understanding them. Computers aren't sexy because of what they look like; they are sexy because of what you can do with them. REG!!! Hire someone who actually knows how to program and stop wasting our time with articules ike this!

    1. jason 7

      Re: Proof the Reg Fetishizes Computers Instead of Understanding Them!

      Thanks for that Buzz Killington.

  88. endi

    EP! yes

    Wow, EP was my first computer!

    If you are interesting, there is a dedicated EP128 forum:

    And collected infos and programs:

    Please, if you are an EP128 fan. join us in the forum

  89. stu_san

    Connection Machine 5

    With only the Cray-2 as a salute to high-end computing, I would like to add the Thinking Machines' CM-5. Corny dialog and dopey Jurassic Park graphics aside, the CM-5 *looked* like a supercomputer:

  90. Observer1959

    20th Anniversary Mac

    When the title mention Apple I thought for sure the 20th Anniversary Mac would have made the cut. While it wasn't the most powerful of the Mac line of the time the design was surely sexy. You could definitely see that machine sitting on any CEO's desk. It also had the Bose sound system.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Cray? Yes please!

    The Origin also was bloody gorgeous.

    That said, for pure, sleek simplicity, I loved the interior of the G5. :-)

  92. Roo

    I nominate twin INMOS B042's.

    Twin INMOS B042's, fully loaded up with 20MHz T800s.

    They had a nice golden glow even under the tube lights.

    IIRC that amounted to ~ 1.68 peak GFLOPs, which was not bad in 1990 for 3 year old boards.

  93. Mike Flugennock

    MacBook Air and Mac Cube

    Speaking as a long-time Mac user, imho the Air and the Cube may have looked cool from the outside, but the MacBook Air's inability to upgrade memory, its lack of internal Ethernet, and limited USB capacity -- and the Cube's various technical issues -- made them far less sexy. The MacBook Air would've been much sexier if it had expandable memory and more ports (I would've settled for it being a bit thicker for that) and the Cube would've been way sexier if not for the power switch issue, the defective polycarbonate issue, and its limited expandability. Too bad, really -- they looked really cool. What a lot of designers don't realize is that functionality adds to "sexiness", too.

  94. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Now, the Cray 2, on the other hand...

    ...not only has superior functionality, but looks ultra-super-cool, like a computer from a sci-fi movie. Wicked-assed sexy.

  95. Jim Wilkinson

    NeXT cube - what about the NeXT slab?

    I got my company to buy me a NeXT cube and it was a beautiful machine - better than the cube IMO.

    (that was before the IT fascists forced everyone onto Windows boxes).

    1. Robert Forsyth

      Re: NeXT cube - what about the NeXT slab?

      The pizza box was like a squashed cube.

  96. P4YL04DED

    Joe 90

    Is it my imagination, or is the operator working the Cray 2 also the famous Gery Anderson character?

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Acorn System 3

    Forget these plastic toys.

    What about the 'Acorn System 3', a thing of beauty.

    3 and not 1,2,4,5 ?

    Because thats the one I used.

  98. Anonymous Coward

    Nice try, but...

    The criteria for me is really whether a design changed the way I thought about computers. So a ZX Spectrum really doesn't cut it for me. In no particular order:

    5. The Cray 1A. (Criteria: "you mean it comes with seats?!")

    4. Thinking Machines CM-5. The most badass blinkenlights ever.

    3. Sinclair ZX-81. A keyboard on a computer instead of DIP switches? Outrageous.

    2. SGI Indy. I have yet to recover from the visual effect of seeing the purple peril on my desk the day after we migrated from the venerable sparcstations. Though SGI do lose house points for the O2 toaster design.

    1. The ThinkPad 701. Of butterfly keyboard vintage. The video of the keyboard opening still elicits a wow! from anyone who sees it.

  99. M. Edward (Ed) Borasky

    I'll agree on the Air, the Cray and the Sinclairs, but the others are ordinary. Elegance in computing also has to do with the instruction set architecture, so I'd go for the Burroughs stack-based systems and the Floating Point Systems FPS-164 long-instruction-word machines. Runner-up - the original IAS machines designed by Von Neumann.

  100. Jim 59

    Coloured keys++

    Big up coloured keys, eg on the Enteprise Elan and CPC464. Gotta love that red escape key.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Casio FX 502

    I'm listing it here as my first programming experience - especially since it remembered its programming, and so it was no problem when teachers switched it off at school :)

    I've also played with a KIM 1, but that wasn't not going to win any design awards (it was basically a motherboard with hex keyboard and hex display).

  102. This post has been deleted by its author

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about: Commodore PET, Atari STFM 520?

    The Commodore PET and Atari STFM 520 I would have thought should have been on this list!

  104. Richard Lloyd

    Fails for Commore and Sinclair machines

    Most of these look reasonably well designed, but the Commodore 128 looks like a clackety old IBM PC keyboard with a case attached and the less said about the Sinclair machines the better (neither of them look good and the less said about the quality of the build materials, the better).

    A bit surprised the fruitily coloured iMacs didn't make it in here - the all-in-ones with the striking colours is probably the sexiest design Apple have come up with (I'd have dropped the Cube myself).

    Having said all that, I've never really cared about how my computers looked - for desktop PCs it's totally irrelevant to me because they spend their time on the floor under a computer desk!

  105. corestore

    Connection Machine:

    Good to see a few mentions of it. Here's mine:

    Interesting thing about these small ones: you turn the key in the back to the 'unlock' position, and a little motor lifts the *whole perspex cube cover* up in the air, exposing the innards... style! :-)


  106. Nasty Nick

    No SGI machines


  107. Titus Aduxass

    CDC Cyber 6600?

    The console looked amazing - two circular oscillosope thingies.

    Impressed me loads at the time. But then I was only a nipper.

  108. jaysel

    My memories of a Cray 1, was that it made a very comfortable bed, back in 1987:

  109. Antikythera

    No Thinking machines CM-5, clearly this list was scheduled to be posted on April 1st.

  110. tedtab

    No "Connection Machines"? Ridiculous!

    How can any list of "sexy computers" not include the original cube, the CM-2 , or the "lightning bolt, CM-5, that can now be seen in the re-release of Jurassic Park? The NExT was an attempted miniature version of CM-2.

  111. Johan Bastiaansen


    That Sinclair Z88 is rectangular with rounded corners...

    1. Vance P. Frickey

      Re: rectangular - this is the American version of the Sinclair Spectrum, the Timex/Sinclair 2068.

      I owned one and am sorry I sold it. It was beautiful inside and out. Among its strong points: a cartridge connector to allow instant loading of software from ROM cartridges. Unfortunately, it came out just before Timex Computer Corporation folded, so that no ROMs were forthcoming for us Sinclair fanatics in the United States.

      But look at that case!

  112. Disco Dance Donkey

    The MacBook air was quite clearly based on the Portégé range, albeit Apple made a far better looking unit.

  113. mark 63 Silver badge

    Cray users?

    Funny to think of the people using Cray computers as "users"

  114. steveking1000

    Cobalt Qube

    I loved the discreet glow, the compact size but most of all the way it just seemed to work. I (a self taught dabbler) was told by my then employer to specify, build from parts (my boss was too tight to buy ready built!) and get running a new server for 40 users. I chose MS SBS (ok, that was stupid!), ordered my parts and managed to get the job done and working well, but it took me nearly a week.

    A year later, in a new company, I got talked into doing the same thing again. Ordered a Cobalt Qube and had everyone running in a morning. I know someone who still has one on a shelf, and I keep thinking about setting it up as a retro home server.

  115. heyrick Silver badge

    Bizarre list

    We must be in cloud cuckoo land - what list could possibly have a Spectrum and a Cray side by side?

    Anyway - as sexy as the Cray may appear, do you realise just how many kilowatts it sucks? Fire that baby up and your neighbours will see darkness!

  116. pewpie

    like apple much?

    total fucking horseshit

  117. Vance P. Frickey

    ZX-81 / T/S1000 is still the sexiest PC on Earth

    My Timex/Sinclair 1000 (the American clone of the ZX-81) was my very first computer. It's still my favorite. Part of that was the way cool black shell, part was the way cheap entrance price ($100 originally, and toward the end of Timex's venture into fine computing hardware, you could get them new for $20 in discount stores) and part was the Sinclair BASIC operating system, which had error trapping just as good as Hewlett-Packard's desktop being sold at the same time. The "A"s I got in FORTRAN are largely due to being able to work out the program logic on my ZX-81 at home, then got to college and type out a working program in FORTRAN on cards the first time. Best $100 I ever spent.

  118. Fading
    Thumb Up

    Sharp MZ 700?

    Two years before the C128 you had a fairly similar looking Sharp MZ700 - nice looking computer that you needed to load a language into (only a boot and OS call in the ROM) .

  119. Cipher

    Talk about sexy computers...

    ... have a look at

    The Toshiba Desktop Deathstar looks particularly interesting...

  120. imaginarynumber

    Wot no HTC?

    What about the HTC X7500 or HTC Shift?

    Both devices made the iPhone look like... well... a phone

  121. Father Time

    IMO you missed the most seductive of all - if you ever ogled an AN/FSQ-32 you never forgot her. And the fact that she was old before you were born is no excuse.

    ps, the iMACs after 2009 are also lovely

  122. William Higinbotham

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

    Mine was my first computer in 1981. The Heathkit ET-3400.

    It awoke me to the fact that I can program this to do what I want or dreamed up. It was a tool that I can customize to my imagination. It was not anything I had before. Well there was building blocks and erector sets:-). That New Math really came in handy.

    William B. Higinbotham, The ASCII Guy, Bellport, NY, USA

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sexiest computers of all time? No, you've just picked the sleekest designs that wouldn't look too out of place today.

    Commodore PET (1977) Atari 400 (1979) and the ZX80 (1980) get my vote. Sinclair's successors looked bland in comparison and the PS3 is ugly.

  124. Htos1

    Agreed on the SGI systems-just BEAUTIFUL!Not to mention we designed the os for ALL dbs tv systems on ours,and debuted to industry in '93.2600 4ever!

  125. Belardi

    Forgot some... man I'm late!

    A Coward said: "Commodore PET (1977) Atari 400 (1979) and the ZX80 (1980)"

    The PET computers were generic looking... I grew up in that era. The Commodore B128 was like a Porsche, too bad not many were made. But that was a major problem with C= typically, over the course of 10 years (1977~1987) they made dozens of computer models that ran pretty much the same hardware (6502) that was INCOMPATIBLE with each other. Some of it is understandable... can't expect C128 software to run on a VIC20. But common...! The C128 and C128D(Euro) were among the best looking 8bit computers.

    I don't agree with the Atari400... its keyboard SUCKED! But the Atari 600~800 gets thumbs up. The Sinclairs looked neat, but thats because they were cute little things... not serious computers. They were smaller than an iPad. A sexy small computer with a mostly usable keyboard would be the failed C= Plus/4.

    From Outcast: "Wot No Amiga A3000T & 4000T ? Even the A1000 was a sexy bit of kit"

    Yeah, the Amiga1000 SHOULD be on this list. It looked great, hell - better than the original Macs. It has a garage for the keyboard even! Plastic rear end so it looked nice from that side too... unlike typical PCs and future Amiga 2000~4000. Mac has always made sure their computers looked nice and non-generic from all sides.

    The MacII and others from that era looked cool... even the Apple IIgs. The Atari ST & Falcons always looked slick.

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