Sony Vaio: time to say goodbye to the 'fun Macbook'

Sony Vaio
The future just got a little less orange

It looks like we're about to lose another iconic tech brand: Sony's saying goodbye to the PC and selling off its Vaio computer division.

It's a victim of what Sony calls "drastic changes in the global PC industry", and it's a real shame for a range that boasted Steve Jobs in its fan club.

Vaio's logo represents the move from analogue to digital technology - the VA is an analogue wave, the IO binary - and the brand helped make PCs fun after more than a decade of beige boxes.

The first Vaio landed in the early 90s and the PCG-505 showed the best and worst of Sony: a terrible naming system attached to a really nice product.

Where other firms gave you a choice of beige or black, Sony's first generation Vaio came in bluey-purple - and it did so in a case that, for the time, was incredibly thin and light. Add in an unusual cylindrical battery and co-ordinated add-ons and you had something considerably more interesting than other firms' fare.

Robot dogs and orange blobs

That wasn't the only odd or interesting thing from Sony.

There was the late-90s PCG-C1, a subnotebook with a rotating "Motion Eye" camera:

Sony PCG-C1

The mid-2000s Vaio U and UX series, ahead-of-their-time tablets that turned up in Bond movies and Terminator: Salvation but which were hobbled by their desktop Windows operating systems:

Sony Vaio U

Then there were the oddly-shaped, Android-powered Tablet P and S:

Tablet P

The extremely orange and extremely wide Vaio P Series:

Sony Vaio P

And most recently, the Vaio Flip hybrids and the Vaio Tap tablets.

Vaio Tap

And that's just the computer line: over the years Sony has also delighted us with mad-looking MiniDisc machines, the decidedly odd Rolly rolling alarm clock and the much-missed Aibo robot dog.

I've long thought of Sony as the mad Apple, a firm that not only makes beautifully engineered, bomb-proof products but that also gets wildly overexcited and puts out really odd things for the sheer hell of it. Orange laptops! Robot dogs! Alarm clocks you have to chase around the house!

In most firms, ideas like that would be laughed at. Sony launched them.

That's why it's a shame that the Vaio brand appears to be going. The mad machines may have been in the minority, but at least Sony made them. The world of tech will be that little bit duller without them.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.