Ancient technology is part of our common cultural heritage, but in the world of commerce it is often overshadowed by pop culture memorabilia. Go to a retail clothing store and you’ll find 1984 He-Man T-shirts, but where are the products that celebrate 1984 computers? Enter Throwboy, a Seattle-based company that produces pillows and blankets based on ancient technology.
Although Throwboy has been in business since 2007, they are still creating new designs. Aimed at the 68K Mac OS, Throwboy has just released a 50″ x 60″ knit throw blanket based on a modified screenshot of the Mac OS desktop in all its 1-bit color glory. (System 7 is shown to us, based on the presence of the Balloon Help icon.)
We haven’t seen the $185 cover in person—and this isn’t a review or endorsement (although others love their pillows)—but the cultural history woven into Throwboy’s products over the years made us want to reach out to its founder and CEO, Roberto Hoyos, to ask him about the ancient tech inspiration behind the currency.
From screens to welds
Browsing through Throwboy’s website, we couldn’t help but notice a theme: lots of love for Apple products, including pillows in the shape of old Macs or iPhones, blankets draped with iPods or command-key icons. So we asked the Hoyos: When was the first time you used a Mac?
“I first started using them when I was in elementary school. I distinctly remember someone coming into our class and teaching us how a mouse works and how cut, copy, and paste work,” he told us via email. That was many years ago, and he’s used many Macs since then. Of all the Mac models, the iMac G4 is my favorite. “The design is very present but still beautiful. I would be happy to see the return of the swivel neck display.”
While some of the blankets on Throwboy’s site look like designs printed on a fleece flat, the Classic Desktop Knit Cotton Blanket caught our attention because the design is actually woven into the material, which serves low-res pixel art on a desktop well. The similarity is obviously intentional: “I came up with this idea to create a knit cover that embraces the discrete look that knit patterns inherently have,” says Hoyos. “We’d been making heirloom-quality woven blankets for over a year… I thought, ‘How cool would it be to make one out of a classic GUI with as much detail as possible?'” “
To create the Classic Desktop Knit Blanket, Hoyos says he teamed up with New York-based Mineola Knitting “They use recycled cotton and plastic materials to create the knit patterns you see in Classic Desktop Knit Blanket. The result is a soft, durable blanket that has good weight and a good feel.”
We asked him about the relatively hefty price tag of the throw, which stands out in today’s world full of cheap, mass-produced (but often low-quality) goods. He says production style makes a difference: “[Our knit blankets] Knitted in New York, it has a neatly sewn detail border (not a frayed edge like some bulk knitted blankets) and is heirloom quality that will last. We stand behind these things as much as we stand for our other products, and our goal has always been to make products that people want to keep for life.”
According to Hoyos, the best-selling Throwboy product in their store is the Icon Pillow, which is based on the macOS Finder icon. “This is a classic staple in the Throwboy plush pillow collection since 2007,” he says. When asked about the risks of branding complexities (since the design is not licensed), Hoyos said, “It’s important to me that our products are inspired by design art we like, but not individually.”
Potential trademark issues aside, Throwboy seems to be doing well enough as a company that Hoyos is currently building a “pad factory” in Seattle. “I started the company by sewing all the pillows myself, but later turned to outsourcing overseas. It was my dream to bring production back to the States and to my own backyard in the Pacific Northwest where Throwboy began, and it’s finally time,” he says. . “I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign later this summer to raise money for the machines needed to make pillows at home.”
Having made pillows for 16 years in many different designs, Hoyos attributes his skill with textiles to an important family connection. “I learned to sew when I was five years old from my grandmother, Delia Cano,” says Hoyos. “I started out by making clothes for my bear. My grandmother had immigrated from Peru in the 1950s, and was a clothing designer who owned her own company and sewing factory in Seattle. Until her death last year, she was a consultant for everything I did at Throwboy.”
Looking to the future, Hoyos says his future textile plans include plenty of odes to old technology: “More pillows, more blankets, and more fun things are always in the pipeline for our beloved tech community.” Hopefully, he’ll make a 16-color Windows 3.1 desktop blanket next.