Commodore 64 Modern Replica Coming Soon
By Jonathan Poet
When I read a year ago that Asus, one of the big companies behind the netbook craze, was coming out with a keyboard PC, I couldn't help but think of the Commodore 64. A keyboard with a personal computer inside that you hook up to your TV? Everything that's old is new again.
But when I read recently that the company licensing the Commodore brand was planning a Commodore 64 replica with an Intel-powered PC inside, I had to check the calendar. I thought for sure it was some sort of April Fools' joke. (August Fools' Day, perhaps?)
Alas, it's apparently for real.
ZDNet UK reports that the new Commodore PC64 will have an Intel Atom processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive and an optical drive (CD/DVD or Blu-ray). It also will have modern video connections, six USB ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a media card reader.
Pricing has not yet been disclosed. Commodore's current keyboard computers start at $495 and rise to $1,295. The Asus Eee Keyboard PC is a somewhat comparable competitor, sporting some lesser specs and the aging Windows XP operating system but also a built-in 5-inch LED multi-touch display. It is going for $550 right now on Amazon. (The original C64 went for $600.)
I haven't seen any reports of what operating system the new machine will have. Ubuntu, with Windows 7 as an optional upgrade, seems likely, based on Commodore's current offerings.
The original C64 keyboard had a "Commodore" key and a control key. I don't know exactly how you cram in Windows, shift, control and "alt" keys onto the old layout. The original also had four function buttons on the right, far fewer than modern PCs.
I also wonder if they'll be able to match — of all things — the red power light. Blue LEDs are so fashionable these days, and the Commodore 64 wore that red little nubbin so nicely. I also have very strong memories of the C64's power switch, which had a very satisfying snap to it. Can the one on the PC64 be as good or will it be a squishy push button?
And then there's the beige-brown color combo. In a tiny photo from the Commodore USA website, the new machine looks 1990s PC beige, not 1980s Commodore beige. It's a small thing, but if you're going for nostalgia, you have to nail that sort of thing.
Ultimately, I wonder who the target buyer is. Considering the likely price, it better be more than a nostalgia experience: It should be a good computer.