The Desktop Computer Returns As Amiga-Infused Retro Case

The desktop computer is dead. No, I don’t mean computers that are meant to sit either on or underneath a desk. I’m talking about computer cases that are placed on a desk horizontally, probably with a monitor on top. The ‘monitor stand case’ was a mainstay for most of the 80s and 90s, but died out when CRTs became too heavy.

Now, though, there’s an interesting Kickstarter project that aims to bring the desktop computer case back, and it’s doing it as an upgrade to the classic Amiga 500, Amiga 1200, and Amiga 600 computers.

The idea for this project began all the way back in the 80s, with the Checkmate A1500 computer case. This case was designed to add expansion capabilities to the low-end Amiga 500 computer, transforming it into a desktop system with extra floppies, a hard drive, and an expansion port. In effect, you could have a ‘professional’ Amiga system for half the price of Commodore’s product offerings.

Now the Checkmate is back, this time with a case upgrade that will transform an A500, A600, A1200, or even the PPC Aeon Tabor A1222 motherboard. There’s another trick this case has to offer: it’s also compatible with MicroATX and Mini-ITX motherboards, meaning yes, there is now going to be a real desktop case that you can throw a motherboard in and a monitor on top.

The death of the desktop computer is an absolutely tragic tale that has resulted in people dropping towers on a floor and propping up their LCDs on piles of books. The reason why we do this is understandable — when CRTs got too heavy for plastic enclosures, computers became towers. Now, though, we’re all using featherweight LCDs, and computers could easily return to the desktop.

23 thoughts on “The Desktop Computer Returns As Amiga-Infused Retro Case

  1. Where did you read or hear that it was because monitors were too heavy? Computer cases have almost always been mostly made of metal not plastic. It’s more a design choice to have towers than desktops in my opinion. Just like how beige coloured computers went away and silver and black took over.

    1. As best I can remember, it was because MOnITORS were dead. Being rapidly phases out in favor of LCDs. Which didn’t need three feet of table depth. So by ditching the desktop case the monitor could go further back, and in turn mouse and keyboard placed at more comfortable positions, utilizing the deal more efficiently.

    1. I’m also not convinced that desktops disappeared because monitors were to heave. We’ve discussed that earlier ( https://hackaday.com/2018/02/16/whatever-happened-to-the-desktop-computer/ ) and I’m very much convinced that the harddisk was a main reason. Before the harddisk was people were constantly swapping floppies, and in that case it is very convenient to have the disk drives (mounted in the desktop computercase) close in front of you.

      Placing the monitor on the same machine was practical. Monitors becoming more heavy is a bit of nonsense if you ask me. Most monitors were 15 inch, not much bigger because that was simply to expensive. Sure there were some people who had 19″ beasts on their desk. But having such a thing on your desk mostly meant you needed it for graphic design/CAD and the bigger screen simply did not allow for putting it on an extra “stand” of 15cm high (the computer). Also, many of these high-end monitors had their own stand, for easy tilting/turning.
      Because the screen being “so big” it would only cause you additional pain in the neck by putting it up high (on a desktop PC). The weight most likely would not have been an issue, computer case back then were build like tanks and could support them with ease.

      So from my perspective… I do not fully agree with the author of this article.
      Regarding the project, I wonder how the Amiga community will pick this up.

      1. I bought a 17″ CRT in 1998 and then upgraded to 20″ in 2000 because those finally came down in price enough. I think the 17″ was $250 in 98 and the 20″ was around $200 in 2000/2001. Then I stopped using those in 2004 or 2005 when I was finally able to get a LCD that was 20″ as well. Even though it was $500 (on sale, regular price was $750) But, my last desktop was a 1992 IBM and my first tower was a 1997 AST.

  2. I have a Mac 6100 under one monitor. The printer until recently was raised up by an old Compaq, I think 50MHz era.

    I got a refurbished i7 two years ago, pretty small, but it wants to be horizontal. I keep it on the side, but using the DVD drive means holding the disk in place while the drawer closes.

    Michael

  3. The first ‘towers’ were simply people flipping their 5150 PCs up onto their left ends. Why the left? Because the BRS (Big Red Switch) was on the right end.

    That established the standard of having the motherboard on the right side of the tower case, which also made sense because the toasty warm chips would be on the top side of the ISA cards. Better for heat dissipation. EISA, VLB, and MCA cards had the same orientation.

    Some cases had removable and rotatable drive bays so the case could be a desktop or tower. Tons of metal and plastic stands were made for holding desktops safely on end. Many computer desks were made with holders to set desktops on end.

    Then some brilliant nut had the idea that PCI cards should be made backwards, then so should AGP, and now PCIe. They’re all back-asswards so in a tower the often hot chips are facing down, constantly stewing in their own heat. Attempts to fix that with ATX cases that mount the motherboard on the left side, and BTX, have been mostly shunned by the PC industry. They quickly adopted ATX because it was better than the AT form, though the part about sucking warmed air through the power supply to blow onto a hot CPU was idiotic. BTX is a far better design than ATX, both for cooling and ease of access. ‘Tis a shame that most OEMs integrate their BTX I/O plates into the case so that board swaps literally involve hacking. Dunno why BTX couldn’t have simply used exactly the same I/O plate dimensions as ATX instead of going for slightly wider and slightly shorter.

    1. BRS, spit up all over the keyboard.. And, a bit of trivia for you, IBM still uses the BRS in a range of Servers..
      I toured UCLA Medical a bit back and bingo, one shiny Big Red Switch at Eye level.. (I’m 6’3″)

  4. I know that in my case, as soon as I got my first flat screen, my computer disappeared under my desk. My CRT monitors all had enough horizontal depth that a computer only stuck a couple of inches in front of them. Once the front of my monitor was at the back of my desk, there was no reason to have a computer hogging all of my desk space, so it went down below. If someone were to come up with a ‘long case’ that had the MB sideways and everything else at one end, so it measured ~24″w x 12″d x 6″h, I would happily put it at the back of my desktop under my monitors.

  5. The fact is that this is a case with a really beautiful retro look and lots of versatility regarding what hardware you’d like to use with it! Moreover its creator, Stephen Jones has promised to open source the design so whoever wants custom face covers or backplates can simply edit and 3d print them. I truly hope people will support the kickstarter and make this happen!

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