New 'Commodore 64' systems start shipping this week

Credit: Photo credit: Commodore USA

Maybe it's because I was an Atari guy, but I don't really get the nostalgia for the Commodore 64. Sure, I had one, but I always preferred my sleek Atari 800XL over the clunky industrial design of the C-64. As technology evolved, I went Atart ST rather than Amiga, too. Ah, memories of those great fanboy wars. Anyway for whatever reason, the orignal C-64 holds a special place in the heart of many early computer geeks, and to capitalize on that, Commodore USA has introduced a line of Intel Atom-based computers that outwardly look like the old C-64. These were announced quite some time ago but according to Electronista they're going to start shipping this week.

[Also see: Computer de-evolution: Features that lost the evolutionary war]

The new Commodores come with Ubuntu Linux installed, but eventually the company promises to offer a copy of 'Commodore OS 1.0 ' which supports all old Commodore compatible software via emulation. Too bad the device doesn't include a floppy drive or we could all dig out our copies of Lode Runner and Raid on Bungeling Bay and relive the 80's. Er, assuming the disks are still good after sitting in a damp basement for 25 years. The company does say a "classic game pack" will come with the Commodore OS pack. The only fly in the ointment here is the price. These new Commodores range from $600-$900, which seems pretty steep for something that's more or less a novelty item. Don't get me wrong, there's a real modern computer inside, but it's more netbook than powerhouse system. They have an Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz Dual Core CPU and NVIDIA ION2 graphics chip with either 2 or 4 gigs of RAM and drives with capacities ranging from 160 GB to a terabyte (OK so that's not very netbook-like). The top end even has a Blu-ray player. Still $900 can buy a pretty nice laptop these days. I'd love to see them offer a stripped down version that only runs the Commodore OS and C-64 emulation, with composite video output, and sell if for $100. I'd buy that just for the grins of trying to remember the right syntax for loading a program again. (Wikipedia says it LOAD "*",8,1 but I remember it being more complex than that...perhaps I'm thinking about formating a disk? Anyone remember that command?) Anyone out there thinking of getting one of these?

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