Retro Terminals Bring Some Style To Your Desktop

It wasn’t so long ago that a desktop computer was just a beige box with another, heavier, beige box sitting next to it or maybe perched on top. They’re a bit more visually exciting these days, with even mass produced PCs now shipping with RGB lighting and clear side panels. But even so, few could really look at a modern desktop computer and call it objectively beautiful.

But [Oriol Ferrer Mesià] wonders if we couldn’t improve on things a bit. Over the last few months, he’s been experimenting with small 3D printed enclosures that reimagine the traditional desktop computer aesthetic. With their distinctively retro-futuristic style, they look like the kind of gadgets science magazines in the 1960s thought would be dotting kitchens, living rooms, and space stations by the year 2000. But unlike those fanciful creations, each one of these beauties is a fully functional computer.

A few of the designs are relatively conservative, and not entirely unlike some of the old “dumb terminals” of the 1970s. With a Raspberry Pi 4 and a tablet-sized screen, these diminutive terminals would be perfectly usable for light desktop work or some retro gaming.

But we particularly like the ultra-widescreen design that [Oriol] has come up with. With a fairly unusual 4:1 aspect ratio LCD, the printed enclosure for this one was so large that it had to be done in two pieces on his Ender 3. To keep the 8″ 1920 x 480 panel well fed, this design uses a Jetson Nano 2GB which has considerably more graphical punch than other Linux SBCs of similar size and price.

As part of the recent cyberdeck craze, we’ve seen plenty of people recreating the look and feel of vintage portable computers with 3D printed cases and modern components. Desktop creations have been far less common, but with gorgeous designs like these to serve as inspiration, that may change.

23 thoughts on “Retro Terminals Bring Some Style To Your Desktop

  1. I love that ultra wide design – a slight adjustment to make it work with more convenient dual screens side by side would be sweet.

    It would look right at home in my Futuro House if I ever get one

      1. The Ultrawide looks really practical to me, with a nice form and function blend.
        Be nice if the screen had a little tilt control and perhaps height adjustment at the desk – but it already looks better than any laptop ergonomically. And extra wide is really helpful for just about everything but gaming – its a good aspect ratio for having the two terminals up, referencing your course material while working or watching a video and doing something else on the other half.

        Would be nice if you are going to go for the retro vintage ‘futuristic’ look to get rid of the 3d print artefacts, or at least give it a vinyl wrap so it really looks like it could be the sleek smooth fibreglass/bakerlite construction of the era its trying to evoke though. For me that kills the effect somewhat – could also make something like it out of veneer laminated over the 3d printed form perhaps, which would look pretty good I think, add a little polished brass nameplate and its suddenly its going to look really awesome.

    1. Yes it’s reminiscent of some 60s designs. I believe there was something with a similar aesthetic in the 5″ TV “boom” of the 90s, when all those cheap small 5″ mono TVs were available.

    1. That thing looks like they designed it without the numpad, then bodged it on later :-D

      I dunno about most space age, I mean the Crays were the only ones that looked like they could actually perform as the functional part of a T.A.R.D.I.S.

  2. Love to see it! Especially the insider look at the CAD experimentation. Anyone know what CAD software is being used? It doesn’t look familiar to me.

    Some of the designs remind me of bunnie’s Chumby project from the mid to late 2000s.

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