A Case in Point.


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The As the transient twenty tens whistled by in a whirlwind of technological titillation, political malaise and steadily increasing ADHD, precious few luxuries pertaining to traditional computing were poised more precariously on the precipice of extinction than the monolithic metal receptacle positioned in close proximity to the rectangular oracle which showcased its arcane abilities. In layman’s language, this troubled author is lamenting his generation’s progressive disinterest in a product that any prudent PC enthusiast would find tougher trade-up than their speakers, swivel chair, or mother’s antique lampshade collection.

Throughout my ceaseless crusade to master the cryptic science of cable management and provide hoards of battery farmed components with lavish and convenient accommodation I have acquired, furnished and auctioned more ATX cases than a bogus lawyer has filed phony copyright claims.

As these words drift across your corneas, no less than a quarter of a century has elapsed since my laborious search commenced and not a single second extra was required to conclude that paradise in the realm of PCB hospitality is as likely as lottery jackpot on Friday the 13th. If the dimensions were ideal, the décor was dreary. If form and elegance and were beyond reproach, the interior was poorly conceived and ran too hot. When all practical needs were satisfied, the design was inevitably vulgar, as if its originators had assumed that the average custom builder would also covet six packs, tattoos, cultivated beards and visit the gym five times a day parking their souped-up motor cycle on the pavement outside the entrance because they were too lazy to cross the road.

On just two momentous occasions did I approach what could be deemed the zenith of finely fabricated silicon sanctuary. The first was in early 2004, when Baron von Intel’s supremacy in the murderous microprocessor war was briefly nullified by his arch nemesis, the abominable AMD, in an age when the latter’s pictorial prowess existed as separate entity. At the time, the market for fashionable cases was both nascent and decidedly niche. The prevailing proportion of towers and desktops occupying laminated Beachwood real estate invariably comprised of beige plastic fascias, unpainted steel frames, and enough sharp edges to shave a heard of genetically augmented sheep.

Approximately a decade earlier, Taiwanese based company Cooler Master had emerged as a competent manufacturer of high quality heat sinks and quickly established a firm foothold in the OEM sector. At the turn of the millennium, its historic ATC-100 rolled off a production line somewhere in China.


An enchanting mid tower chassis forged fully from premium brushed aluminium, the soft sheen of its silky side panels shimmering under sterile factory fluorescence.

To PC sages starved of aesthetics to silence their Apple crazed rivals, it was a gift from hardware heaven and arguably the pioneering realisation of a top tier tailored system assembled entirely by the customer. The case was swift to spawn a succession of thoroughbred siblings until the “ATCS” moniker had blossomed into a revered brand, with each resulting product as desirable as a Rembrandt original. Amongst those most sought after were:

The ATC-200


Proportionally identical to the 100 but with a shiny black bezel surrounding the drive bays, a fine mesh grill replacing the front mounted USB ports and a pair of 80mm intake fans positioned directly behind it to optimise airflow over the hard drives and improve overall ventilation by working alongside identical exhaust fans on the top and rear.

The ATC-101Pictured above beside the 100 and best defined as it’s bigger brother with a revised button/LED  layout and two additional 5.25 inch drive bays at the expense of one 3.5.

The ATC-201b-btx


Also christened the “Black Widow”.  One of several”201″ branded brothers and considered definitive by many, this particular revision boasted an aluring coat of glossy black paint along with a turquoise acrylic observation window on the left side panel. One of its more common silver counterparts formed the basis of my debut attempt at bespoke perfection.

However, none these ravishing relics ignited my desires to the same degree as their flagship descendant.  Beyond doubt one of the most sought after cases of  its era. A flawless masterpiece that compelled me to consult search engines as frantically as a hypochondriac who’d swallowed a scotch bonnet.  A semi-precious alloy sculpture so appealing to my intoxicated senses that I purchased two with a plan to flog the second for a massive profit, before eventually selling it at a third less despite a fawning 500 word review to complement the listing.

I am of course referring to the, historic, the iconic the  legendary ATCS-110


And there it is.  My very own. In faithful service to this day, or at least when I typed what you presently peruse, which could well be long after my soul has succumbed to toilsome technological transience. One thing is certain, this delectable enclosure for post millennial micro technology is destined to survive its master.  Like an ageless antique timepiece it shall become a cherished heirloom, passed down through generations of tinkering techies endowed with an eye for retrospective elan.   There are periods during a company’s existence when its investors, management team and workforce are are all singing from the same spreadsheet.  Such elusive corporate synchronicity leads to a significant boost in logic, assiduous and efficient manufacturing and conspicuous designs untarnished by cumbersome gimmicks or profit-seeking reductions in standard.


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