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The Color of Cool,
November 10, 2002 10:04 AM   Subscribe

The Color of Cool, a Business 2.0 article about why so many new products use blue LEDs. Pantone even declared Cerulean Blue (Pantone 15-4020 TC), the colour of the sky on a serene, crystal clear day, as the official colour of the millennium.
posted by riffola (42 comments total)

 
Wait, I'm not content with what I've purchased? Happiness eludes me, save for this new product? I have to go buy some more things today. Then I will buy more things tomorrow. Then I will buy again.
posted by four panels at 10:17 AM on November 10, 2002


mah cuzzin cletus love to punch on his wife sarry cuz her arm be all the color of that there new millipedium!
posted by quonsar at 10:19 AM on November 10, 2002


Let's check back in on that sometime in, say, the year 2525 (...if man is still alive...) and see how we're doing on that choice
posted by briank at 10:22 AM on November 10, 2002


I was doing some work in Midtown Manhattan the other day. About the first time I had been up in the Times Square area in a long while and was astonished at the amount of blue LED scroll screens. The article explains alot of this. Thanks.

After poking around a bit, I came across a company that will change the color of your cell LED. Man, am I behind the curve.
posted by lampshade at 10:41 AM on November 10, 2002


One of the things I really enjoy about life is not knowing what will be considered 'cool' in even 2 years time, let alone 10 or 20. I can't wait to see what crazy new crap/styles we come up with in the next X years. Silver cars seem to be en vogue at the moment (in the UK anyway, almost every new car is bloody silver!)

Think back to the 90s. Most hi-fi and consumer electronics equipment was BLACK. Black was the coolest thing to have.

Think back to the 80s. Most consumer electronics kit was SILVER. Silver was, once again, cool.

And the 70s? Both silver and brown or beige were popular. although the rarity of plastic in that time probably accounts for all of the wood panelling on cars and household equipment during those times ;-)

In fact, in the 70s, people used to wear bright blue, yellow, pink, or yellow suits TO WORK (see Koyaanisqatsi if you don't believe me). Can you get away with that now? No, not really. Either you go casual or you dress up in a smart black suit. Style is a weird thing, and it's constantly changing.

What will 2010 hold? Frankly, no-one knows. Pink or orange could be the in color! (Anyone remember 1998 when orange was the 'in color' with graphic designers?)
posted by wackybrit at 10:52 AM on November 10, 2002


I was wondering why I was getting all happy-footed whenever I watched Enterprise ... that show is blue LED heaven.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2002


This just in: Blues musicians looking for less cool color, one more synonymous with hardship. Blue Monday reconsidering, as well.
posted by samuelad at 11:05 AM on November 10, 2002


Update: Blue Öyster Cult said to be considering name change as well. Peachpuff Öyster Cult current leading contender.
posted by rusty at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2002


Damn, I can see I got this millennium started on the wrong foot then....the memo I got definitely said green.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:42 AM on November 10, 2002


DUH. Blue LED's are NEW. Therefore they are COOL. Case closed.
posted by chrid at 11:49 AM on November 10, 2002


the more things change, the more they stay the same. [Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne, SFW] Blue was chic in Renaissance art because lapis lazuli was rare. So it's used as wow factor. So i guess blue was the color of the last millenium too.
posted by condour75 at 11:53 AM on November 10, 2002


What was the colour of the last millennium? The brownish red of dried blood?
posted by Termite at 11:55 AM on November 10, 2002


Nobody's commented on the fashion-forward look MetaFilter has been enjoying for the past 3+ years.

The Blue is cool!
posted by me3dia at 12:01 PM on November 10, 2002


When these blue LED's are cheap enough, low watt white lighting from the red, green, blue combo should become more common saving mucho energy, possibly without the annoying, brain numbing flicker of the clunky, mercury-toxic fluorescents of today.
posted by gametone at 12:02 PM on November 10, 2002


I myself prefer Pantone 292.
posted by Utilitaritron at 12:07 PM on November 10, 2002


Purple has always been linked with royalty (particularly in feudal times) because of its exclusivity. Purple was a particularly hard color to 'make' until recently.

Of course, 'gold' had a similar popularity in the 1800s (again, because of its association with one rare metal), but weirdly enough, gold has proven to be an extremely unpopular color for the last 100 years in terms of fashion, car colors, etc.

This might explain the recent 'silver' appeal.. metals like titanium and platinum are seen as much 'cooler' than gold, which is 'old man's money'.
posted by wackybrit at 12:13 PM on November 10, 2002


So what happens when we find the perfect colour? Is this the pinnacle of human perfection? Will sales of the Blue Duck painting skyrocket eclipsing all other art?

</obscure Dilbert reference>
posted by Space Coyote at 12:16 PM on November 10, 2002


BTW, that Pantone site refers to Cerulean Blue as being HTML 9BC4E2 (RGB: 155,196,226). However, that color is a rather dull 'overcast sky' blue.. and is actually Pantone 543C, and not the Pantone 283C they list for Cerulean.

Pantone 283C is HTML A5CEF5, RGB 165, 206, 245. That is the true Cerulean, so their RGB approximations are pretty far off. Either that, or my monitor's color profile is kinda wacky.
posted by wackybrit at 12:17 PM on November 10, 2002


Good thing this doesn't apply to blue LCDs. My Sears Talking Machine alarm clock has had a classy blue readout since I got it in 1981-82.
posted by rushmc at 12:19 PM on November 10, 2002


80s - Red LED (Nintendo power light)
90-95 - Green LED (Gameboy screen color)
95-2005- Blue LED (Playstation 2 scheme)

From my Graphic Designer Kung Fu, I will say that the next big thing will be...

BRIGHT ORANGE. (Dance Dance Revolution)

And then Pink (Revenge of Hello Kitty.)

Mark my words.
posted by Stan Chin at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2002


More blue lightsabers!
posted by murmur at 1:03 PM on November 10, 2002


The color that never goes out of style: clear.

Clear(TM): "It's everywhere!"
posted by agentfresh at 1:05 PM on November 10, 2002


Actually funnily enough my desktop background is a fractal made up entirely of shades of blue. Strange that I've felt no desire to change it in the last 4 months. Perhaps tehy're onto sometihng here.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:20 PM on November 10, 2002


Blue's reach extends beyond the world of electronics. Drug companies have know about the color's effectiveness for years. Ever wonder why so many meds are blue-ish in nature?
posted by herc at 1:47 PM on November 10, 2002


Gray will never go out of fashion. It was never IN fashion!

Space: My background has been the default blue Aqua wallpaper.. the only thing remarkable about that is that I run Windows.. but hey, it's still blue.
posted by wackybrit at 1:48 PM on November 10, 2002


80s - Red LED (Nintendo power light)
90-95 - Green LED (Gameboy screen color)
95-2005- Blue LED (Playstation 2 scheme)


And from then on ... squant.
posted by syscom at 1:49 PM on November 10, 2002


The color that never goes out of style: clear.

You're hungry for something different.
posted by Dreama at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2002


Pantone 283C is HTML A5CEF5,

I vote for your monitor's profile being wacky. Or else you're using a Mac and the HTML colors are assumed to be in sRGB.
posted by kindall at 3:38 PM on November 10, 2002


So i guess blue was the color of the last millennium too.

You mean my psychic is wrong. A psychic at the Magic Castle explained to me after knowing guessing my favorite color, blue (not really, just what I wrote on her prop) in her act. "Most peoples' choice," was her explanation for her getting it right.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:01 PM on November 10, 2002


is there a linux version of the squant plugin available anywhere?
posted by andrew cooke at 4:02 PM on November 10, 2002


I thought #006699 was the color of the millenium....
posted by oissubke at 4:40 PM on November 10, 2002


Aesthetics aside, there is a very practical reason for wanting blue.

In the days of incandescent indicators, many critical applications required that red indicators be used for alerts and amber indicators for warnings. If a vendor tried to sell equipment into one of these environments, it had better not use red lights for normal operations. Either the vendor would be disqualified or they would have to customize it.

I suspect these policies needed to be relaxed as electronic equipment moved from incandescent lights to LEDs (available only in red and amber, at the time). Maybe now that blue and green LEDs are available, the old color semantics may be reclaimed.
posted by chipr at 4:43 PM on November 10, 2002


Hmmmm, I have a Metallic Blue VW Golf with blue instrument panel, my Kenwood matches the instrument panel, my Nokia has a modded blue backlight, also I have a blue traser glowring and a blue Sapphire Torch on my bag, and my watch has a blue backlight.
Oh god, im addicted.
posted by bhell13 at 5:24 PM on November 10, 2002


Hmmm...As he takes his little blue pill...
posted by GT_RULES at 5:38 PM on November 10, 2002


For LED freaks (like myself) there's always the LED Museum. But, just so you know, the ultimate in cool (and angst-ridden) LED colors is black.
posted by shinybeast at 5:57 PM on November 10, 2002


My external CD burner has an "ice blue" LED on the front. Within a day of getting it, I applied three layers of post-it note to the LED so I could see what it was doing without being (1) blinded and (2) distracted.

Blue? Feh, I say.
posted by devbrain at 7:17 PM on November 10, 2002


Another reason for blue as a background color is that the eye cannot perfectly focus on the blue created by a computer screen. Blue and yellow are considered the best background colors to use from a usability perspective..
posted by xammerboy at 9:20 PM on November 10, 2002


Can't you get the led in your mouse changed to a blue or green one? Would that make you a rebel of some sort?
posted by davidgentle at 11:25 PM on November 10, 2002


I thought the instrument panel on the Beetle was a Cobalt Blue, but everyone keeps talking about Cerulean, what gives? Don't let the Russians know we've decided to change their flag to Cobalt!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:59 AM on November 11, 2002


davidgentle: I'm sure you could, but I wouldn't expect it to up your geek cred.
posted by mnology at 8:04 AM on November 11, 2002


Talk about blue. From the "Ride the Light" company Qwest - has placed this blue sign atop their skyscraper headquarters in Denver. It is so blue, so strong that it can be seen 75 to a 100 miles away. There is a local debate on whether it is actually pollution - although the state and city council haven't addressed the issue.
posted by majikwah at 8:14 AM on November 11, 2002


I've always been fond of blue (see my Web site!), but like all trends, it sucks when the rest of the world makes a fad of something you've always been doing.

My forecast is a return to green (notice that camouflage has come back into style), as more people are looking for cash in the recession, and an appreciation of a natural-found color.
posted by Down10 at 12:58 PM on November 11, 2002


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