Commodore 64 returns (but it should be the Commodore 4194304)

The Commodore 64 is being re-released. It’s the same box on the outside, but a 21st century set of hardware on the inside.

During the mid 1980s, the Commodore 64 was one of the most popular models of the home computer explosion. Indeed, while precise sales numbers are hotly disputed, it does appear to have the strongest claim to being the best selling individual model of all time. (Of course, sales of PCs today are vastly larger, but that’s split across a much wider range of manufacturers and models.)

I’ve previously written about the British “war” between the educationally approved, no-nonsense BBC Micro and the more game-oriented ZX Spectrum. A little after the peak of this battle, the Commodore 64 became the third player in the fight, standing out particularly for (comparatively) high-quality sound capabilities. Across the Atlantic, it’s been credited as something of the first mass-market computer.

While the new model (the Commodore 64x) is clearly marketed as a nostalgia piece, it’s very much a full-fledged PC. In a stark reminder of the growth in specifications over the past three decades, the original model’s 64k RAM and approximately 1Mhz processor has been replaced with a maximum RAM capacity of 4GB and a 1.8 GHz processor. And impressive as the original’s game music may have been, it wasn’t exactly the 7.1 surround sound of the new model (albeit only with an external decoder.)

There’s some creative design work to fit modern features into the original all-in-one box design: at either end of the box is a DVD player (either a slot or a tray load) and a card reader. At the back of the box are the usual PC selection of USB and networking slots, plus an HDMI socket. And the design even carries the original power indicator light on the top of the keyboard, which now doubles up as a power switch.

Although the new model is designed to run Windows 7, buyers do have the option of going for Vista instead. I guess running Vista will at least allow nostalgic users a much greater opportunity of experiencing the frequent frustration and hassle that was part of the original 8-bit experience and made those days when things worked perfectly all the sweeter.

Naturally it’s possible to play original C64 games: indeed, the machine’s boot menu has a button to go straight into an emulator of the original system.





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6 Responses to Commodore 64 returns (but it should be the Commodore 4194304)

  1. Mockups aren't going to convince me this is real. The website for this thing is conspicuously placeholder-heavy and there have been a number of upcoming hardware news items over the years. I'm a big fan of that old, weird platform, but until I see a real picture of something in the wild, it doesn't exist. :) To say nothing of whether it will sell enough to justify its own existence.

    • indeed i’ve been hearing about this the past two years but i keep seeing the CGI commodore and not a real one on someones table or desk or wherever..

  2. I think a Commodore 64 emulator downloadable for free (CCS64 and WinVICE come to mind) will run just fine on a $400 laptop that comes with a built-in monitor, 4GB of memory, a 2Ghz Dual Core, and Windows. Then there's all the freely downloadable C-64 game and program disk images online. Economics win over nostalgia. Do the investors know?