The first post on this subject was focused on Cray supercomputers, which place beautiful images on the front to add an artistic touch to their technically-impressive machines.
In this (second) post, I will mostly address the “beauty through design” approach taken by Cray and a few other supercomputer makers.
Let’s start with the Thinking Machines Corporation. Founded in 1983, it has delivered some of the most advanced (for its time) and good-looking computers ever. A brief promotional video for its first models is available on YouTube.
Thinking Machines’ CM-5 Supercomputer, also known as FROSTBURG , was installed at the US National Security Agency (NSA) in 1991 for code-breaking tasks, and was operational until 1997:
No decorations, no frills. However, this supercomputer still remains one of the most futuristic-looking supercomputers ever. Its flashing and constantly changing red light panels showed processing node usage, and were also used for its diagnostics. In fact, this old supercomputer looks so good it ended up in a Jurassic Park movie:
To me, the CM-5 design actually looks inspired by the WOPR computer from WarGames (1983), which wasn’t a real computer, of course, but a realistically-looking movie prop: