Latest Commodore 64 incarnation hopes what's old is new again

Latest Commodore 64 incarnation hopes what's old is new again

Summary: My first computer being an Atari 800, I don't have the first-hand experience of having owned a Commodore 64, but it's remembered a lot more ardently than those early Atari computers. In fact, the Commodore name is so beloved that it's continually being resurrected, including an attempt to make it the moniker for a line of gaming desktops.

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TOPICS: CXO, Hardware
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My first computer being an Atari 800, I don't have the first-hand experience of having owned a Commodore 64, but it's remembered a lot more ardently than those early Atari computers. In fact, the Commodore name is so beloved that it's continually being resurrected, including an attempt to make it the moniker for a line of gaming desktops.

The latest licensing of the Commodore name is for an updated version of its legendary 64 computer, which takes the form of an all-in-one system packed into a keyboard form factor. It uses Intel Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processors and can handle up to 4GB of DDR2 RAM and 2TB of storage. Needless to say, there's no room for a discrete graphics card, but the PC does at least come with a built-in DVD burner. Despite the last-generation components, the Commodore offers an interesting twist: It comes with the latest version of Ubuntu Linux, and you can also get it configured with your choice of Windows 7. The new company, Commodore USA, also says you can load Apple OS X on the machine; theoretically lots of PCs can handle OS X, but you don't see Dell mentioning it on its configuration page.

No prices are currently available on its Web site, which will have the Commodore on sale starting June 1. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any real connection between the new PC and its vintage namesake—Commodore Gaming, which sold the gaming computers before changing course and offering classic Commodore games for the iPhone and Wii, at least offered stick-on graphics for their desktops that included Commodore-related themes and also installed a C64 emulator on them. But beyond the semi-resemblance between the keyboard PCs, there's doesn't seem to be any information available that should inspire retro-lust in those of you who spent your formative years under the Commodore's spell.

[Via PC World]

Topics: CXO, Hardware

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  • But does it have sprites?

    And that amazing 40 column by 25 lines of text?

    That is what I really want to know.
    Bruizer
  • Display .....

    Does it hook up to a monitor or can it work with a simple TV??

    There is a big need for a low cost, simple computer that can be used on a normal analog TV (ie: that old heavy thing many people replaced with an HDTV). A PC that would simply use RCA inputs, but provide basic internet access and the ability to type simple documents could be a hit this day and age. Also, it could be a way to provide an entry level access to low income families.
    wackoae
    • Not realistic

      I still have a working C64 I bought shortly before it went off the market. Something equivalent to WebTV just isn't practical nowadays. Analog TV's can only handle 40-column text. Even 80-column text is barely readable. Trying to view modern websites that expect 1024-pixel page widths would be a total mess.

      Nowadays you can get an off-lease refurb PC with 512MB DDR RAM, Pentium 4 1.6 GHz processor, 40GB hard disk [b][i]and[/i][/b] Win XP Pro for $100 from places like MicroCenter. A family that can't afford [b][i]that[/i][/b] won't be able to afford ANY [b][i]new[/i][/b] PC no matter how low it's priced.

      Designing ultra-low-price equipment compatible only with obsolete technology and aimed only at customers who can't afford to buy it isn't a viable business model.
      Rick_R
      • They can get it for $15

        I agree with you.
        Some organization, such as my local "computer recycling centre" offers computers with decent capabilities (such as the ones you described) for $15, including the monitor.
        rarsa
      • That's cheaper than what my daddy paid for my C=64 new...

        ...and that's not even taking inflation into
        account!

        Or the extra money required for the C64 floppy
        drive, dot-matrix printer, and monitor, which
        easily tripled the price of the computer.

        Wow, I have a strange craving for playing Frogger
        2, Lode Runner, and Mig Alley Ace right now.
        roystonlodge
    • It uses DVI

      Rather oddly in my opinion, it features a DVI output for video and RCA plugs for audio. If they plan to channel the Commodore name, I would have expected a single HDMI output for video and sound to support 1280x720 (720p) and 1920x1080 (1080p) modes; this would be the 2010 equivalent of the "TV computer" that was Commodore 64 (and my beloved Atari 800).

      And why the redundant optical drive? That's so... 20th century. I'd much rather pay for a couple of extra USB 2 (or even 3) ports, since Commodore (and Atari) also used serial ports for expansion.

      But it's an interesting product. The price will determine it's fate in today's market.
      ricegf
      • I haven't looked in a while . . .

        But don't they sell DVI to HDMI cables?

        I know it won't deliver QUITE the quality, but you could go that route . . .
        JLHenry
      • Don't most tvs have a VGA connection nowadays?

        I know mine does. That's how I have my Mac Mini
        connected in the living room.
        roystonlodge
  • i wanna have one

    Old souvenirs wow .....
    But with when you think about it Its the same concept
    as all those all on one Imac, dell studio one ,sony
    L117FX, and other except that its in the keyboard.

    I love the idea you can have your desktop all the time
    all you need is a screen .....

    depending how they will price this. talk about a nice
    cheap test platform , Best of all those of us that are
    old enough will still i have a commodore at home :)
    Quebec-french
  • seriously?

    I cant believe people keep falling for this obvious scam all
    across the internet. Do a simple google search for
    "keyboard pc" then click the first link (zero footprint pc) and
    youll see that this same exact model
    except without the commodore name has been around for
    months. Someone somehow obtained the rights to the
    name Commodore USA (not even Commodore) and slaps it on
    this product thats been around for months and all of a
    sudden everyones drooling over it. They dont even have
    rights to the commodore logo, it says so right on the
    website!

    Seriously people its a glorified laptop without a monitor or
    battery.

    On top of all of this, the website is very telling. A low
    quality website packed full of typos, misconceptions, and
    images obviously snatched from a google search. I give
    these people credit, theyre doing a hell of a job destroying
    the commodore name.

    Why would anyone promote this behavior?
    bringeroftruth
    • In business since 1996

      I can't say I've heard of them before, but they say they have been in business since 1996, they're located in "California's Tech Coast", and their product lines include systems aimed particularly at the medical industry.

      Regarding "it's a laptop without the monitor and battery", so what's wrong with that? I use my laptop almost exclusively plugged in. I don't like the small screen and if my laptop were my primary computer I definitely would hook it up to my 24-inch HD monitor. With most homes now having HDTV's, this sounds like it can fill a similar market to what the C-64 actually did but with capabilities of an average business computer.

      Regarding "destroying the Commodore name", a brand name only has value if it sells products. Commodore hasn't sold computers for YEARS. In the late 1980's I bought a Commodore DAISY-WHEEL PRINTER for about $600. The printer was actually made by Diablo but had a Commodore logo on it. The exact same printer with a DIABLO label sold for around $1,800. Before I bought it I contacted the surplus dealer and asked, "Is it REALLY the same machine? Why so cheap?" They said it was the EXACT SAME THING. But because it had the Commodore label on it (the company was Commodore BUSINESS MACHINES ...) business people thought it was a cheap toy and wouldn't buy it, so Commodore wound up selling their stock to the surplus vendor.

      I assume they couldn't stay in business long if their products were junk. If attaching a nostalgic name increases their sales a fair amount, what's wrong with that? If it's a lousy product nothing will come of it and no one will remember it. ... Remember the Supergirl movie? ... Me neither.
      Rick_R
  • seriously?

    I cant believe people keep falling for this obvious scam all
    across the internet. Do a simple google search for
    "keyboard pc" then click the first link (zero footprint pc)
    and youll see that this same exact model except without
    the commodore name has been around for months.
    Someone somehow obtained the rights to the name
    Commodore USA (not even Commodore) and slaps it on this
    product thats been around for months and all of a sudden
    everyones drooling over it. They dont even have rights to
    the commodore logo, it says so right on the website!

    Seriously people its a glorified laptop without a monitor or
    battery.

    On top of all of this, the website is very telling. A low
    quality website packed full of typos, misconceptions, and
    images obviously snatched from a google search. I give
    these people credit, theyre doing a hell of a job destroying
    the commodore name.

    Why would anyone promote this behavior?
    bringeroftruth
  • RE: Latest Commodore 64 incarnation hopes what's old is new again

    What a rip off.

    Things that were cool about a C64:
    * interpreted language
    * easy-to-use
    * still usable after being used as soccer ball
    * cheap
    * easy connect to any TV and sound system
    * the best collection of 8-bit games ever
    * no shutdown - just turn the thing off
    * no boot up - just turn the thing on

    In many ways, it was the last truly good home computer ever made.

    This new things bears no resemblance to it, except that it's built into a keyboard.
    rgcustomer@...
    • Designing a Legitimate C64 Heir

      Interesting list. Hmmm...

      * interpreted language

      Ubuntu is the first OS they list, and it includes Python. Add Stani's Python Editor (SPE) for easy hacking. It's everything Commodore BASIC wanted to be.

      * easy-to-use

      It doesn't get much easier than Gnome and Compiz. ;-)

      * still usable after being used as soccer ball

      We'll have to see an actual unit to determine ruggedness. It looks solid, though.

      * cheap

      We'll have to see the price. If it's at or below the magic $99 price point, I'd call it "cheap". You?

      * easy connect to any TV and sound system

      Right. They need to use HDMI instead of DVI. While we're redesigning, include an over-the-air HD tuner and MythTV, and they'll have a killer DVR in a cheap, entertainment center friendly package.

      * the best collection of 8-bit games ever

      Ubuntu has a C64 emulator, as well as emulators for every 8-bit game system I've seen.

      * no shutdown - just turn the thing off

      Well, if you run a good journaling filesystem like Reiser, you *can* just turn it off...

      * no boot up - just turn the thing on

      Right, they should also provide an "instant on" motherboard with Linux SplashTop in ROM (with browser, email, etc.), so that you only boot from disk if you want to use "advanced" features.

      So it's kinda close. If they add SplashTop and replace DVI with HDMI at $99, would that qualify in your book as a legitimate C64 heir? Just curious.
      ricegf
    • Well....

      No VIC-II or SID, so without a modern equivalent in spirit the magic is lost. I'm sure to most this means nothing, but I don't know how else to explain it.

      350800!
      People
  • OS X tease

    They put Mac OS on their configuration page but on another page say they don't sell or support Apple software or hardware. The display chipset on the system they are selling has no driver for accelerated graphics on OS X so it is rather hindered for that purpose. It only seems to be thrown in to drum up interest in a unremarkable product.
    Mac Hosehead
  • sent from my Commodore 64

    I always laugh. People having to state that they sent stuff from their iPhone. When I do reply to them I always make sure to post a signature 'sent from my Commodore 64'. Seems I can make it happen soon. Used to have one, had lots of fun with it.
    TxM2xTx
  • Sorry.

    The C64 was magical because of its -limitations- in areas where other computers growing in the golden age had no -capabilities-. It's form factor had little to do with it. As a matter of fact, I spent a whole lot of time hacking the machine into a XT form factor.

    Oh how I miss the magic of the 80's. This thing has no magic.
    People
  • The good ole days.

    I remember my first computer way back then was the vic 20. I'm not sure the commodore 64 had come out yet.
    DemonX
  • RE: Latest Commodore 64 incarnation hopes what's old is new again

    what nonsense. I have had an identical PC from
    Cybernet for almost 4 years now. Here is the
    link to
    the website. ofcourse mine had a celeron D
    processor
    and windows xp. but they offer C2d in their
    recent
    configs. The ZPC (Zero-Footprint-PC) is the
    name of
    the model. Here is the link to the website.


    http://www.cybernetman.com/

    So basically someone is just renaming a product
    that
    is already been in the market for over 5 years
    and
    selling it as a new line. They sure as hell
    aren't
    cheap. When my power cord went out I had to
    shell out
    almost $80 for a proprietary one from the
    company. So
    if you dont want to wait for "The June Launch
    of the
    Commodore Store" you can just buy one from
    Cybernet.
    LoL...

    Amar
    necwarrior