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Apple hints at colorful computer plans

Will the company's next PC look like a Christmas tree? A patent filing sheds some light.

Apple Computer is again trying to light up the computer market, according to a patent filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

A patent application, listing Apple as the assignee and Duncan Kerr and Steve Hotelling as the inventors, was published on the USPTO site late last week. The abstract described a computer with an illuminable housing and a light device--red, green, blue and white light emitting diodes "disposed" inside the housing.

The filing describes a "chameleonic" electronic device which can "alter its visual appearance."

This published patent, filed on Feb. 2, is the latest in a series related to this capability.

Apple representatives declined to comment on the filing. The Web site Mac Observer first noted the updated application.

The application has 36 claims regarding what is used to light up the casing of a computer--different color LEDs and a partly translucent housing--and how and when it is supposed to occur. An indicator assembly produces an image on the surface of the case when activated.

Apple started a trend in creating more colorful desktops in early 1999 with the introduction of five "flavors" of iMac, strawberry, blueberry, tangerine, grape, and lime.

The company has acknowledged it is working on a new iMac design.

Apple will be participating in a trade show in Paris at the end of the month.