But that ended with the Apple II, and PCs have been butt-ugly beige boxes ever since. Jobs has made amends with the iMac and its descendents, but to my mind they've always been a little too precious and smug for my taste.
But these new game computers are a different story. Think skateboards, surfboards, and maybe most of all, think of those guys back in high school bolting big Holley four-barrels into their GTOs and Trans Ams. Just big, raw, stupid, great horsepower. Hooker headers, Edelbrock manifolds and Detroit iron.
That's what America's all about. And that's what these game machines are, too.
You've just got to love it. Who would have thought that the triumph of the nerds wouldn't come from the poetry club or the electronics lab, but from the hoods and slackers down in auto shop?
This too, as with music, suggests a new approach by young people toward the use of technology to achieve larger cultural ends.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if this generation does to to the computer industry what the Boomers did to the auto industry in the mid-1960s. Somewhere out there is a John DeLorean of PCs or a Lee Iacocca of game boxes, who is going to build the first great, Earthshaking digital Mustang. And that day can't come soon enough.
Then again, maybe that was just jet lag talking. I played "Crying in the Rain" one more time, then fell asleep during the final approach into Atlanta.
Michael S. Malone, once called “the Boswell of Silicon Valley,” is editor-at-large of Forbes ASAP magazine. His work as the nation’s first daily high-tech reporter at the San Jose Mercury-News sparked the writing of his critically acclaimed The Big Score: The Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley, which went on to become a public TV series. He has written several other highly praised business books and a novel about Silicon Valley, where he was raised. For more, go to Forbes.com. And you can talk back to Silicon Insider via e-mail.