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X500 Retro-style Computer Case

Do you remember the home computers of the 80’s? Loriano Pagni does, too, and he has been working on a case for modern PCs that harkens back to the designs of those times. He calls it the X500.

Texas Instruments TI-99/4 circa 1979 (Credit: Wikipedia)

Texas Instruments TI-99/4 circa 1979 (Credit: Yiddophile/Wikipedia)

One of the early home computers exhibiting the all-in-one wedge design was the Texas Instruments TI-99/4, back in 1979. It featured a built-in keyboard with a cartridge slot for programs to the right and an expansion slot on the right side of the case for connecting peripheral devices such as a disk drive, modem and printer. The TI-99/4 was the first computer I used to learn programming.

Clockwise: Atari 800, Atari 1040ST and Amiga 500 (Credit: Bilby, Bill Bertram, Bill Bertram/Wikipedia)

Clockwise from top-left: Atari 800, Atari 1040ST and Amiga 500 (Credit: Bilby, Bill Bertram, Bill Bertram/Wikipedia)

Several famous home computers followed the TI-99/4 with a similar wedge design. Also in 1979, the Atari 400 and its bigger brother, the Atari 800 (top-left, above) with a typewriter-like keyboard, had their cartridge slot on top, rather than on the side of the case. In 1985, the Atari ST computers incorporated a much larger keyboard with numeric keypad, similar to the PC keyboards we have been using since. Some versions had a built-in disk drive to reduce desk clutter. The Commodore Amiga 500, released in 1987, had a similar layout with a large keyboard, but was not quite as futuristic-looking at the Atari ST.

The Pagni X500 computer case is a project that Loriano started with some sketches in 2005 and has been perfecting for the past seven or so years, working with various materials and building many prototypes to make sure modern components fit well inside and operate properly. His goal has been to capture the look-and-feel of the Amiga 500 and make it available to anyone building a modern PC.

The two prototypes that he shows off in his video, in black and in white, look really good. The spirit of the 80’s computers is definitely there with the low-slung wedge shape, long ventilation slots on top, and built-in keyboard, drive and media ports. Of course, you are free to choose what kinds of devices and ports you want in yours, but the kit comes with the following:

  • The fully assembled case
  • All screws, washers and nuts
  • 1 – custom made DVD-RW and 3.5-inch card reader bracket
  • 1 – slim, low profile USB keyboard
  • 1 – slim SATA DVD-RW with one slim SATA cable
  • 1 – 3.5-inch USB card reader
  • 1 – on/off power switch
  • Braided and tailed (2-pin) LEDs in amber, red, white, blue or green
  • 1 – 40mm silent fan
  • 1 – 50mm silent fan
  • Silicone mounts
  • Keyboard holders
  • Spacers
  • Rubber feet

For an extra bit of nostalgia, Loriano applied adhesive labels with Amiga-style letters and symbols to the keyboard keys on his prototype. This is not necessary, but could be the final touch on achieving the retro look, especially if you end up running an Amiga emulator or a ported version of the Amiga OS on yours.

His Kickstarter project seeks to raise funds to be able to manufacture the cases in volume. As of this writing, he has £7,871 of his £10,000 goal. So, if you want to help out to add a bit of the 80’s to your home office or to show off at work, you have 12 days left to jump on board.


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