Ok, real realtalk. In your opinion, what’s the most esthetically pleasing old computer or terminal?

Here’s my top 3 (list subject to change without notice due to new finds and whims)...


#3 Atari 800 (1979)

An extremely pleasingly friendly yet futuristic design. Those yellow keys!

#2 LexisNexis Terminal (1980s)

If computers were designed by Italian Memphis designers.

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These Yamaha cx5m MSX computers that were meant to be music computers and can control FM synths.

@thomasfuchs IDEAL's 1979 Electronic Detective is the first device I remember being utterly fascinated by. The buttons! The bleeps and bloops! The Don Adams ads!

My older brother received it as a gift, but I was repeatedly told that it was beyond my 5-year old grasp (I also assume it was rather expensive, which was another reason I was never allowed to touch it.)

I never did get to play it but it certainly awoke something deep in my nerd brain. I got a Speak & Spell not long after.

@thomasfuchs Honorable mention in the "My big brother had it and I wasn't allowed to touch it" category is Mattel Classic Football.

@ItsTheManOnTheMoon @thomasfuchs I am still better at this football game than any other. I tasted so many 9v batteries to keep this thing running...

@djsundog @thomasfuchs I had a later, LCD Mattel game called "Long Bomb Football" Which taught me most of what I know about the game of Football.


I presented the ISC Compucolor II with Intel 8080 CPU, 5.25" floppy disk, up to 32 Kb of RAM, and most importantly text and block graphics in glorious 8 bit color!

@thomasfuchs The Sinclair QL - while it was a flawed beast to program, I've never owned a computer that looked better.

@thomasfuchs were the fins for aesthetics or were they actually functional in heat dissipation?

@aussierockman I think they’re there for both. This thing is small and packed to the gills, and has no fan, so the fins should help at least a little bit. And they look cool.

However, the Plus/4 is notorious for dying ICs due to overheating (I have one and mine is dead, too).

That's your weirdest? Try the Enterprise 64, with its built in joystick instead of cursor keys!

@thomasfuchs don't want to sound old, but computers used to look better then they do today


@Qwxlea they had personality, for the last 15-20 years everyone is just trying to copy Apple

@Qwxlea and don’t get me wrong, most Apple designs are beautiful; but even they failed with some of the more adventurous computers they shipped, like the G4 cube and the table lamp iMac ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

@thomasfuchs and lousy copies at that. I like the apple aesthetics, but want to run FOSS on it. They give us not-quite-right aesthetics, and hardware that still needs blobs to function

@Qwxlea I like the ability run foss (& with that Unix stuff) next to proprietary stuff, something they now have been allowing for almost 20 years.

I think a mainstream OS going that way really was a good thing for FOSS in general.

It’s a bit like the success of Starbucks making people aware that there’s more than gas station coffee and independent coffee shops started to pop up everywhere. (At least that’s what happened in the US.)

@thomasfuchs Yeah, I get that, I used to have a MBpro running OSX 10.6, and it was great. Bought a bunch of software and everything. But at the end of the day, what I really *need* is a terminal and a browser, the rest is just nice to have, so I can use whatever.

MacOS started to feel weird after a while. So I put Arch on it, used it (happily), until my parrot made me drop coffee (starbucks!) on it, and I got an ugly thinkpad...

@Qwxlea That’s the beauty with having choices in tools. Pick what you love and what works for you. :)

@thomasfuchs Looks like those keycap colors could easily be the basis for a novelty mechanical keycap set design today. I wonder what kind of switches that keyboard used.

@thomasfuchs the jpeg artifacts are pretty strong here but honestly I’m digging them. Somehow they improve it

@thomasfuchs Also the Atari 1200XL: Coffee, cream, & chrome.

And TRS-80 Model 100, looked like The Future from 1960.

@thomasfuchs The Atari 800 looks still amazing. The case has those weird angles all over the place. Such a unique design.

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