TechnologyTell

CURVED/labs Mac desktop concept evokes original classic Macintosh

Sections: Desktop Macs, Laptops, MacBook Air, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Originals

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I started my Apple Odyssey on a Classic compact desktop Mac—a second-hand Mac Plus I got from a university professor friend—complete with a huge color-matched (Platinum) MacCrate 20 megabyte external hard disk drive that connected to the Plus via a heavy-gauge, 50-pin, SCSI interface cable. That old Plus is rivalled for its “magicality” only by my first Apple PowerBook that arrived on the scene four years later. The graphical user interface that allowed me to bypass keyboard commands and reach inside the computer via what was by today’s standards a really horrible Apple Desktop Bus mouse was a wonderment, as were the images that appeared on the razor-sharp, one-bit, built-in, nine-inch monochrome CRT display.

I upgraded the Plus to a whopping 2.5 MB of RAM from the standard 1 MB configuration at some implausibly absurd price, which opened the door to Apple’s first stab at multitasking, called “MultiFinder,” which was actually quite similar to what passes for “multitasking” on iOS devices today. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

It was also an option to switch off the egregiously noisy hard drive and boot from an 800k floppy disk which would load the system into RAM, after which you could insert an application on another floppy and work in blessed silence save for the keyboard clicking, since the Plus had no internal cooling fan—the first of several Apple attempts during both of Steve Jobs’s tenures as CEO to build Macs cooled by passive convection only. Other notable and not always entirely successful examples are the “earth tone” teardrop iMacs of the millennial cusp, the G4 Cube, and all PowerBooks prior to the 1997 3400c. Hopefully, the rumored 12-inch MacBook Air powered by Intel’s Broadwell 14nm process shrink of the Haswell architecture used in current MacBook Airs—which is projected to be fanless as well—will be less compromised, but I digress.

I consider the classic all-in-one compact desktop Mac form factor running System 6 and earlier Mac OS versions with Susan Kare’s elegantly minimalist original Mac icons to be one of Apple’s most aesthetically attractive computer packages of all time, and that appreciation is not unique to me.

The folks at CURVED/labs in Germany are classic Macintosh fans, and developed a design exercise concept of a modern interpretation of the classic Mac design to mark its 30th anniversary.

curved/labs

They observe that the latest iMac, launched in late 2014, is another design inspiration by Apple, with its sleek razor-thin form factor and stunningly high-resolution display. It’s a computer design from the future, but they lament that when designing new technology, Apple so often neglects their own heritage. Hence, inspiraton for them to reach back to the future as a tribute to the first Apple computer.

Technological internals for the CURVED/labs-Mac are components borrowed from a current 11-inch Macbook Air which they have transformed into a touchscreen desktop AIO. Users can choose whether to point, click, and drag the traditional way using a mouse and keyboard, or type directly on the 11.6 inch touchscreen.

curved/labs classic macintosh

The concept has 128 gigabytes of internal SSD flash memory, either 4 or 8 gigabytes of RAM are available, and the CPU is an Intel Haswell i7. The enclosure matches the same high quality found in aluminum Macbooks, iPhones and iPads and the back of the Mac features an illuminated Apple logo.

Small Size But Fully Equipped

Placement of many of the classic Mac’s original elements is preserved but updated to accommodate three decades of technology development. For example, the spot located under the screen to the right, where the 3.5-inch floppy disk drive was located, now houses an SD Card slot. The thirtieth anniversary concept Mac supports all popular WiFi standards and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and there’s a USB 3.0 port and a Lightning port. A built-in battery from the donor MacBook makes this thin and light desktop Mac in practical terms a portable hybrid, and, as conceived, would be available in iPhone-style silver, gray and gold—including color-matched keyboards and mice.

curved/labs classic Macintosh

That is, of course, were it ever to be mass produced, which is highly unlikely. Cool as the design is, an 11.6-inch touchscreen is just too small to satisfy most desktop users who’ve become accustomed to the vast area and super high resolution of today’s desktop monitors, and the package is way too large and cumbersome to appeal to portable PC fans. It’s fun to look at, but I’m doubtful I would enjoy actually using it as a production tool. How about you? Does this look like hardware you would actually buy and use?

For more information, visit curved.de.

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  • Sharon Sexton

    Love it! I could totally see it as a home-base station, controlling home system integrations like HVAC, music, lighting, video/baby monitors or kitchen recipe access at your fingertips. Easily perched on a countertop, shelf – yup, I’m in!

  • Shock_Therapy

    Neat and original contrasting concept in a world of carbon copiers.