The (In)Difference Engine
P. Atkinson, 'The (In)Difference Engine: explaining the disappearance of diversity in the design of the personal computer'
Journal of Design History 13(1): 2000: 59-72.
By the end of the 1990s, there was a clear perception of all office computers as being more or less identical. The office PC was a 'clone' - an identical, characterless copy of a bland original.
Through the exploration of an archive of computer manufacturer's catalogues, this article shows how previous forms of the computer, informed by cultural references as diverse as science fiction, stereotyped gender roles and the display of status, were systematically replaced by the adoption of a 'universal' design informed only by the self-referential world of office equipment.
A text only version of this article can be downloaded for free here
The full article is on the Journal of Design History website