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.