Beige Computers
December 31, 2003 11:33 AM   Subscribe

Why were computers, Apple and IBM compatibles, from a few years back available in beige and well just beige? Is there a reason why beige was the defacto colour of computing hardware?
posted by riffola to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)

I think it's because the Apple II was beige, which is ironic.
posted by MiG at 12:00 PM on December 31, 2003

I think it's because for the longest time beige was, believe it or not, the "colour of high technology."
posted by five fresh fish at 12:21 PM on December 31, 2003

Best answer: Well, I have no real references to speak of to back me up, but I would imagine it's because beige was considered an inoffensive, lowest-common-demoninator color that would fit in nearly any office environment. The early manufacturers would have had to have stuck to just 1 color for cost concerns, so I guess beige won. I would suppose that black would also have been a possibility. Consider how most office accessories, such as file cabinets, are either black or "putty".
posted by Sangre Azul at 12:22 PM on December 31, 2003

I haven't run a computer with the case on in years. It might mildly discourage me from swapping the cards around at the drop of a hat, and we can't have that. As far as I know computers are the color of metal and circuit boards.
posted by jfuller at 12:59 PM on December 31, 2003

Want a PC of a different color?
posted by jfuller at 1:06 PM on December 31, 2003

Back in the Apple II universe there was a big difference between old and busted (beige) and new hotness (platinum), of which the IIgs was the harbinger. There was specific mention in the IIgs manual (a wonderful 300 page full colour affair) of the unfortunate fact that the Apple II modem only came in beige.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:35 PM on December 31, 2003

I vaguely recall that there was some study that beige was a very neutral and soothing color for computers to be. I'll warn hat could just be memory mutilating a rumor.
posted by rudyfink at 4:17 PM on December 31, 2003

Best answer: IBM beat Apple for dull computers by a bit, sorry! :-)

More old beige boxes (mostly beige, anyways).

I think if you look at old hardware, you'll see HP has been the trend leader for beige. :)
posted by shepd at 4:54 PM on December 31, 2003

I was told the actual color name was "putty," rather than beige.
posted by Lynsey at 8:42 PM on December 31, 2003

Response by poster: Thanks all, now that I think about it does make sense that they'd use beige. It's unobtrusive, and probably also because a beige computer is less threatening than say a black one to a non-tech savvy person.
posted by riffola at 11:21 PM on December 31, 2003

Best answer: OK, now, historically speaking, why are laptops black And cellphones silver? A substantial amount each thereof, at least. Is it related to the aesthetics of the era when these are introduced? The beige box is an icon. Beige, according to dictionary definition, is the colour of unbleached wool. This is intirguing, considering its purported subliminally soothing qualities. See also The (in)difference engine. Culture of Beige: Beige has traditionally been seen as a conservative, background color. In some cultures, beige garments might symbolize piety or simplicity. Traditional Saudi Arabia dress include a flowing floor-length outer cloak (bisht) made of wool or camel hair in black, beige, brown or cream tones. It is the color of evil.
posted by y2karl at 12:55 AM on January 1, 2004

According to William Gibson, in Virtual Light, it's because on some level the creators were terrified by what they had created and were subconsciously trying to mask that fear.
posted by mecran01 at 7:37 AM on January 1, 2004

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