Old yellow computers

If you have any old 80s computers that were originally beige in colour, it’s highly likely that (after 30 years) they have gone a rather yucky yellowy colour. I guess a lot of people must have thought ; the plastic is exposed to UV light during its lifetime and gradually the plastic fades or something and goes the horrible yellow colour.

My two Amiga 500s were quite yellow and so too was the Atari 800XL (in contrast the Electron doesn’t look yellowed at all)

The thing is some smart people worked out that it was something to do with the Bromine used in the flame retardant in ABS plastics during the 80s that was causing the yellowing … and that it was probably possible to reverse the chemical process that made it go yellow in the first place.

So a great site is the retr0bright site that explains all this and the retr0bright chemical concoction to do the reversal. So that requires some hydrogen peroxide and some laundry whitener product. Hydrogen Peroxide is somewhat hard to obtain, so I put off trying it out until I read this post where only the laundry whitener in high concentration was tried. So off to the supermarket and I found some generic brand whitener that had 35% concentration sodium percarbonate which I think is the highest concentration of all the products on the shelf ( a few others also had 35%). Then I had to find a nice low plastic container which would fit a top half of an Amiga 500 in. Sistema make a 30 litre low storage container that I thought would be perfect.

So then I put on the rubber gloves, mixed up half a kilo of the whitener in a bucket with some warm water until it dissolved then poured this into the low plastic container, then I topped it up with cold water from a hose. I put this all out on the balcony on a nice hot summers day in full sunlight and rigged up something with a wire coat hanger to help keep the top part of the A500 immersed. Then it was a case of regularly scooping off the froth forming on the surface so some of the sunlight could penetrate into the water. The first time I did this, I just put in the top of one of my Amiga 500s, basically leaving it all day and overnight and pulling it out the next morning and hosing it down, then just letting it dry off all day the following day.

And yes it works pretty good.

I did it again on my other Amiga 500 and the top beige part of the Atari 800XL, and they now look pretty good too. I haven’t done it to the bottom halves of any of the computers yet so it is pretty easy to see the massive difference in colour.

The only thing now is that I probably need to go through and pull all the Amiga key tops off and do those … as they look pretty yuck compared to the nice new beige top!

NOTE: You should take all necessary precautions when using laundry whiteners in such high concentrations. Definitely use rubber gloves and try to do it all in a well ventilated area (preferably do it all outside). You DO NOT want to spill this stuff on your carpet.