In the first of what I hope to be a series of articles on concepts I think worthy of product realization, I bring you a drop-dead gorgeous retro-styled computer from the design studios of Dave Schultze in California. The Philco PC is inspired by a 1950s television, the iconic Predicta from Philco which was designed by Richard Whipple and Severin Jonassen. The first edition featured a 21inch swivel black and white picture tube, came in a blonde or mahogany finish and initially sold quite well.
Schultze says that his concept, which recently achieved a top three placing in an image rendering competition sponsored by the developers of the V-Ray 3D rendering engine ASGVis, combines the essence of modern minimalism with a dash of antiquity and a sprinkle of steampunk engineering. Given that it’s based on a TV design from the 1950s though, I would suggest that perhaps it would be more accurate to use atomicpunk as the descriptive but maybe that’s me.
Old type meets new input
The inspiration for the keyboard is an old-fashioned classic typewriter (such as the Underwood pictured) where lettered discs sat atop levers physically connected to typebars. Accordingly, the Philco PC input peripheral sports raised, chrome-bordered black scalloped keys with white lettering in the familiar QWERTY arrangement. Horizontal grooves pinstripe the darkened, angled base plate and a chrome-finished outer casing holds it all together nicely.
The raised key theme is, thankfully, not continued to the left and right buttons of the mouse but the shiny bordering and color scheme are. As is the grooved pinstripe covering which graces the upward face and the almost mirror-like casing. There’s also a scroll wheel and a couple of simple side buttons to nicely finish off the design. Both devices are wired rather than wire-free though, which Schultze says “added a little extra retro clutter that seemed to work well.”
The sum of its parts
Just like the original TV, the PC itself is split between two units – the base and the screen. The designer has opted to liven proceedings up a bit and chosen a bright orange coloring for the main casing of the body and the back and sides of the monitor, as opposed to the uninspiring browns and tans found on the TV. Schultze explains “I really liked the contrast between with the black, chrome, and orange together. One of my primary motivations for the project was the observation that most PC designs suck. Since Apple is doing such great design work, I purposely avoided any of the Apple color schemes and materials just to prove that a PC could look as cool – or maybe even more interesting.”
To the front of the base is a grill where the optical media slides in through a hidden opening. And to the right is an orange dial which on the Predicta TV would have been used for tuning between stations but on the Philco PC it controls the unit’s volume. Sitting to the left of the face, its horizontal diameter straddling the larger line of a toppled silver ‘T’ that breaks up the grill and plays host to the optical media eject control, is a suitably colored power/reset button. The rear of the unit is where all the periphery is connected.
The 21 inch swivel picture tube of the Predicta range was revolutionary and allowed viewers to adjust the angle of the screen to face them no matter where they sat in a room. Happily this feature has also found a home on the PC version, albeit in a more modern flat-screen form. The modern approach continues with the choice of Windows 7 as the proposed operating system, although that is the only technical specification given in the description of the concept, “the case was designed to allow for any standard configuration of internal components,” adds Schultze. “If it was for me, I’d totally max it out so I could do my design, 3D modeling, and animation work. That would be a Core-i7 3.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core w hyper-threading (or dual CPUs) 16 GB of RAM, two 1.0 TB HDDs @ 7200 RPM, and top of the line Nvidia Quadro video card.”
Making it real
The designer has received a lot of enquiries from potential buyers who haven’t realized that his creation is a 3D computer-generated concept rendered using Rhino design software. In order to attract the attention of a prospective manufacturer, a short presentation video has been produced and although he can’t go into any details at the moment, Schultze is currently pursuing some positive leads.
As hinted at in the opening statement, I for one would like to see this “labor of love” make it into the real world. If not the whole unit then at the very least the IO devices or the monitor. However, I hope that any Philco PC unit or peripheral that does appear does not inherit the same reliability issues which plagued the Predicta’s.
Would you spend your money on such a machine or is my wishlist the only one on which it will appear?