Last month, we took you deep into the hidden recesses of Intel’s Hawthorn Farm facility, where the company’s enthusiast motherboards are designed and refined. On our way out of the building, we walked down a long hallway that ends with the metal detector gate one passes through when entering the building. This hallway is lined with dozens of mounted, framed motherboards—a veritable walk-through museum documenting Intel’s many years of motherboard innovation.
As tech enthusiasts, we tend to be amnesiacs. There’s just so much good stuff to focus on now, and even better stuff coming soon, that we forget where we’ve been and the massive effort that went into moving through those stages. Walking this hallway, we felt a bit like archeologists or perhaps sudden visitors to the Galapagos Islands, granted a rare glimpse at the sweep of natural evolution. Some fits of creativity grew into the technologies we have today. Others blossomed for a moment and died ingloriously.
At the end of our last visit, we got about half-way down this hallway, then stalled in our tracks. After nearly two decades in the hardware business, it was impossible not to stop at each frame with a “I remember that!” or a “Oh, what was that called again?!” We wanted to stay for hours. So on a return visit with a camera and tripod, we did. Sure, we had to shoot the boards under poor lighting and through the high-glare glass of their frames, but it turned out well in the end.
What follows are our picks for the best dozen of the mobo brood, the ones that stood out as having exceptional historical significance. We had a blast taking this walk down memory lane and rediscovering our roots. Hopefully, you will, too.