Computer: Modular
Computer by parts   (+3, -2)  [vote for, against]
No big box, just lots of connected boxes.

Although computers today are getting smaller, the number of features wanted by most people (DVD player, CD writer, cable modem etc) means that they have to be large, or have many wires coming out the back. An alternative would be to have standard shaped boxes which contain all the components of a computer. A single main box could contain the CPU and power supply, with a couple of firewire/USB2 ports at the back. To add more to the system simply buy a box with memory in, and one with a graphics card and connect them to the ports at the back - now for the clever bit - these next boxes also have couple of firewire/USB2 port at the back, so it becomes a chain of components, rather than all the wires going to one unit (I had thought of using blutooth of WiFi, but the components still need power). Upgrading just involves swaping one component for a new one. In an office computer systems can be split up, so at your desk you only have a cd drive and a keyboard, mouse and graphics card(plus whatever else you need), whilst all the computers are stored in one, airconditioned room.
-- miasere, Mar 24 2003

Ah, the home stereo version of the PC. The vision of a computer as a cluster of distributed components, freed up from buses, has been around for a while. Haven't seen many practical applications yet.
-- DrCurry, Mar 24 2003

Shirly having a long wire inbetween the memory and processor will have some kind of effect on speed?
-- RobertKidney, Nov 23 2003

My view would be to have a small box with cartridge-like sockets in the top for memory, so that it's near the cpu, but you still don't have to open the case to upgrade, perhaps with it "locking" while it's turned on or in stand-by. I guess the graphics card/box would have to plug on directly, it wouldn't be able to communicate with the cpu/main ram quick enough otherwise. The graphics box should have memory sockets in it as well, it's really annoyed me at times that I can't upgrade the memory on my graphics card. You could make all components take memory, so you could even upgrade the hard-disk's read-ahead cache, if you need it. Drives should definately be external, but still 5 1/4", with some clip-together mechanism to hold your computer together. This could also be a good way to make multi-processor machines, just plug a bunch of "extra cpu" boxes onto it.
-- Dynamic, Apr 21 2004

Actually, they used to make computers like this. This reminds me of the old Commodore 64. With some of the newer cable standards like Firewire and USB 2.0, you could have the boxes connect without too much of a performance hit. Actually most components inside the box are connected by cables anyway and you just can't see because they're inside the box!
-- Madcat, Apr 21 2004

random, halfbakery