Discover more from Blackbird Spyplane
Pentium Chip drip
Wild ‘90s- and Y2K-era computer joints
Back in May we did some instantly legendary Mach 3+ recon on non-obvious ‘90s- and ‘00s-era Apple tees. Unsurprisingly, given that Apple’s design is tight and given that BLACKBIRD SPYPLANE is the no. 1 source across all media for “unbeatable recon,” we found jawns aplenty. But what stones did we leave unturned??
ZERO, because our work is impeccable. All the same, today we’re revisiting the same era but crossing over to “the dork side” to see what, if any, cool ~‘90s P.C. merch is out there. The answer: A bunch of gems that run a strange & beguiling spectrum from “nostalgia-tinged normcore” to “unholy surrealist-dystopian kind-vibes (but dope).”
Related side-note: It’s late June. You have cabin fever from quarantine, you are feeling outraged by widespread racial & social injustice and — on a more venal but forgivably human level — you are itching to get off a damn fit even if it’s in a context where fashion means nothing and absolutely no one cares what yr wearing. With that in mind, we highly recommend participating (safely) in a protest this weekend. During marches here in the Bay we’ve noticed & appreciated all manner of sick jawnage in the crowds, and any of the below would go hard in a legion of ppl banging drums & shutting down a street in the name of a better world.
Let’s kick things off with a hegemon of the processing game. This vintage Pentium-chip tee has an iconic “Intel Inside” logo up front and, on the flipside, a mystical dreamscape haunted by flying violins, CD-ROM dolphins, chessboards and film reels. This graphic captures something common to many P.C. tees of the ‘90s: it represents an attempt to “explain” personal computing — a relatively novel technology & concept at the time — to a mass consumer audience via … corporate-filtered Magritte / Dali energies?
On top of all that, this particular one’s been hand-painted, and whoever made it did a nice job. The seller’s asking $180 here, which feels a little steep, so maybe message them with an offer.
This 1994 IBM joint, advertising the “OS/2 Warp” operating system, is way less dough & one of our favorites we found. It swaps out the fantasy-scape of the Pentium tee for a more literal yet still kooky “information superhighway” photo-illustration — featuring a mountain range, airborne file-folder and a “32 BIT” speed-limit sign to boot. Bonus: The front of the shirt says “DO MORE” in a scratchy NO FEAR type font, which we love.
A couple deeper cuts here… We fux heavy w/ the crude 3D of the tee on the left, made to promote a company called Panamax’s “COMPLETE DIRECT SATELLITE SYSTEM” — a phrase that could almost be the name of a t-shirt company founded in, like, January 2020 in L.A. that makes garish all-over-print graphics that are cool but not as cool as this one. (Technically Panamax might not even be a personal-computing company per se but it seems like they made some LAN-related hardware and this tee is flames so we r giving it a pass.)
The tee on the right was made to promote WRQ Reflection, “a Windows-based terminal emulator,” and sets softer-edged, chalky-looking decor against a nice purple field.
Chrome spheres osmosing through a floppy disk … Alternate earths hovering above ancient Greek columns … ‘90s tech marketing was some vibey & demented s**t!!
… or, sticking to the minimalist register, we’re into the simple puzzle-piece $65 Microsoft Office tee on the left, which has some artful staining that somehow makes it cooler (meanwhile the slightly faded $30 “Microsoft Government” Office XP joint linked here lets you steal FEDERAL-BUREAUCRAT-ENJOYING-CASUAL-FRIDAY-IN-1999 valor for a bargain).
U can accessorize either with an enamel Intel pin (center) featuring a mouse lassoing the earth, $16 here.
Finally: Salute “computer-woman” as she does arcane AltaVista searches and possibly wears archival BODE in the process?? The jumble of colors here, the patchwork border & napping cat, the palpable Roz Chast aura … everything about this is hitting hard, and it’s only asking $18 here. (UPDATE 8:28 A.M. Pacific Time: U foolishly slept on computer woman & someone copped!!)