The idea was manufactured by a fictive commune in Oregon called the Sandbenders. They produced, basically, laptop chassis and keyboards out of aesthetically-pleasing materials. brushed-steel keys. Wood cases. The thought that they had was that while the hardware in the box is likely to change over and over and over again in your lifespan, the way you talk to it- the I/O hardware- isn't going to change terribly much. So why not buy a laptop case that's made out of burlwood with a silicate overcoat to keep it from scuffing? Why not spend a few grand on the damn thing? You'll only buy one in your whole life. Make it a pleasing piece of hardware to deal with just by dint of how it's manufactured and what it's made of and so on and so forth.
What I like about this idea is- you have a computer that is personal, for the rest of your life. It's always obviously Your Computer. It's never someone else's. I also like the idea that one could (for instance) have the keys made of turquoise if one liked the color, and have the body of it made of a sandstone veneer. You could have it made out of maple with hammered bronze keys in a very arts-and-crafts style, if that appealed more. One could make it look exactly like one wanted his/her computer to look.
I'd blow a few grand on a handcrafted computer case if I could rest assured that it'd be ventable appropriately to whatever heat the chipsets to come will put out- if I could be certain motherboards weren't going to stop fitting into it. I even know roughly what I'd want it to look like- I'd want to make it in a 30s cathedral-style tabletop wireless box.
If the Sandbenders were around today, they'd probably have come up with an iPod mod, and it would probably look something like this.
I so fucking covet this thing.
link gaffled from boingboing.net