So long Sony Vaio, it was fun while it lasted

Alastair Aitken 10 February 2014 0

Before Apple machines were used by anyone except media hipsters and when folk were still lugging about laptops that looked like typewriters with plywood nailed to them, the Sony Vaio laptop range took the world by storm. Well, the niche geek world, as it was then. Here was a machine that looked so slick, with its purple-blue plastic casing, that it could have come from the next millennium. It not only looked the business but with everything already preconfigured and working – this was in a time when buying a machine was generally only the start of a long, uphill battle to create a computing environment in which something productive could be achieved; an environment that could easily collapse into a mess of drivers, updates and shareware.

My love affair with the Sony Vaio brand began when on the same day both my Jaz drive (remember them) mangled all my backup cartridges and my home-made computer gave up the ghost. Shortly after smashing that Jaz drive against a wall and vowing never to make a computer again, I stormed off to Tottenham Court Road to buy the first machine I could. Happening past a Sony dealer I had to do a double-take at the most beautiful computer I’d yet seen; within ten minutes I was the proud owner of a Sony Vaio, with its working touchpad, working headphone/microphone, working modem, a working CD drive that could be switched out and a detachable external floppy drive (for really old applications). Note the significance of the seemingly superfluous use of the word “working”, back in them days you’d be lucky to get just one of those peripherals working properly on a Windows machine, let alone a bunch of them.

That laptop lasted from 1999 until 2007, when it met an untimely death. I had just bought some extra memory for my now ageing machine but before I could install it my wife tripped over the power cable and unwittingly pulled the machine onto a polished concrete floor. It was this accident that made me look for a replacement that had a magnetic power connector – of course since then no one has ever tripped over the power cable. Wracked by her PC-murdering guilt my wife bought a new Sony Vaio, but it was an entirely different, inferior, beast.

Nostalgia, yet inevitability, were the feelings that swept over me as I read that Sony is looking to divest itself of its PC brand. It was inevitable given how Sony had run the brand into the ground and fell so far behind its rivals. Where once the Sony Vaio was the original “it just works” machine, it had become a brand well-known for being pre-installed with all manner of pointless bloatware. The look of the Vaio had changed to be less Bauhaus and more Blue Peter competition winner. In a few short years Apple had not just taken the Vaio mantle of most beautiful machine but had run away with it. Oh Sony! You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

Alastair Aitken (124 Posts)

As a contract developer and manager I’ve worked in a wide range of enterprises in a variety of countries where I’ve encountered everything from great work, awful work, bizarre work, all the way down to quasi-legal work. If you think that you recognise your own organisation within my articles then you’re undoubtedly wrong, where you work isn’t that unique.

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