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The Commodore 64 is back! Sort of.

By: 10 April 2011 One Comment

Sure, it looks like the classic Commodore 64, but it's a modern machine with a dual core CPU, plenty of RAM and the other bells and whistles one might expect. Ubuntu Linux is the default OS on these new rascals, but you can install Windows 7 if you want.

Anyone who had an interest in computers in the 1980s remembers the Commodore 64.

Commodore — along with Apple, Atari, Radio Shack, Texas Instruments and even Timex (to an extent) — were all trying to convince us that they manufactured the ultimate home computer back in the early 1980s. Commodore’s flagship computer back then was the Commodore 64, which was introduced in 1982 for $595 and boasted 64 kilobytes of RAM a 6502 CPU (the same one that Apple and Atari used) and — perhaps most importantly — ports that accepted standard Atari 2600 joysticks. The Commodore 64 was ubiquitous for a few years and featured some of the most popular games from the era.

To say that former Commodore 64 owners are sentimental about their old computers is an understatement and it appears Barry Altman — CEO of Commodore USA Ltd. which was established last year — is hoping there are still enough fans of the computer left to make a few bucks. Yes, the Commodore 64 is back, but it’s radically different from the eight-bit computer that made the brand famous.

Yes, the new 64 looks very similar to the old one in that it’s still a computer that’s contained within a bulky keyboard. The guts of the system, however, have evolved over the past quarter of a century. The 6502 has been replaced by an Intel Atom D525 running at 1.8 GHz. That 64 kilobytes of RAM has been replaced with 2 to 4 gigabytes of RAM (depending on what package you buy with your new 64). Thrown in a DVD drive (with optional Bluray), HD-quality graphics, plenty of USB ports and a multimedia card reader and you’ve got, well, a modern computer (or at least something slightly more powerful than your standard Netbook).

Remember the wildly popular Commodore 5.25″ floppy drive? Well, that’s been replaced with a hard drive that ranges in size from 160 gigabytes in the basic model to one terabyte in the ultimate package. There is a Commodore 64 emulator included for running those old programs and a new operating system on the way (Commodore OS) which will run everything from those primitive Commodore Pet applications to 32-bit Amiga programs.

Commodore appears to be doing a lot to claim this computer is wildly different from anything else out there. Sure, it looks like a Commodore 64 and can emulate one, too, but it’s powered by Ubuntu Linux by default and owners can slap Microsoft Windows 7 on there if they want it. Still, there’s something to nostalgia and having a computer that looks pretty darned cool and retro, right?

The new Commodore 64 ranges in price from $595 for the basic model to $895 for the ultimate package. There’s also a “bare bones” package for $250, but bear in mind that it doesn’t have a motherboard or much of anything but a case and keyboard. You can see the various configurations here.

While you’re visiting the Commodore site, make sure to check out the other models available. Indeed, Vic-20 and Amiga fans won’t be left out in the cold.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

One Comment »

  • Commodork2011 said:

    I love this idea, it is so great. I definitely would love to get one, now all it needs is to have a few of these totally sweet Commodore USB joysticks that these guys sell:

    http://www.thejoystickstore.com

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