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New Commodore 64 Priced Wait What?

This is what a cheat code used to look like.

Younger readers won’t remember the C64. That’s why I hate them. They won’t remember games only loading if the volume was correct on your tape cassette player. They won’t remember waiting 20 minutes through grinding noises and mad screens for the game to crash the moment it tried to start. Instead they’ll complain because the company logo splash screen takes too long to fade. (I mean, I do too – I like to keep my complaining as up-to-date as possible.) But for those of us crooked of back enough to remember that beige-brown box, the news is that the remake we’ve previously mentioned now has a price and is taking pre-orders. You can buy a Commodore 64 again, this time with a current-day PC in their tummies.

What’s happened is a company has secured the rights to the names of the old machines, and called themselves Commodore USA, LLC. It’s a clever piece of nostalgia-led marketing, really.

My brain is sort of fizz-popping in my attempts to comprehend sentences like this:

“The new Commodore 64 also features a slot or tray load DVD R/W(Bluray optional) on the left side of the unit. The base Commodore 64 comes with 2 GB of DDR3 memory and is expandable to 4 GB.”

It’s like time is collapsing. A Commodore 64 has, well, 64K of memory. Not 2,097,152K. That would be a Commodore 2097152.

They also have a Commodore VIC-Pro, which doesn’t quite look like a VIC-20, and a Vic-Slim, which looks like a modern keyboard. The magic somewhat lost in those two.

The C64 model is lower spec than the VIC-Pro, offering an Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz, the ION2 graphics chip that should soon be revolutionising netbooks, 2GB of RAM (upgradable to 4), a Realtek sound card, and all the ports and wifi you would imagine. It’s basically a next-spec netbook, but somewhat awkwardly shaped like a Commodore 64, and without a screen. Um.

The VIC-Pro can have a Quad core 2 1066MHz chip, up to 4GB RAM, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100 GFX, standard sound and all the rest. The Slim is far simpler, with a 1.8GHZ Dual Core, 2GB RAM, a 250GB HD, and the Intel GMA3150 graphics chip. And there are plans for a VIC-Plus and a VIC-Touch.

The versions currently available for pre-order don’t yet have the C64 emulator installed – they say that’s coming soon. Instead they’ll come with an Ubuntu disc, and the option to install Windows “if you really feel the need.”

But the news today is the price. And even that is retro. The C64 model will cost you $595, which is the exact price the machine cost when it was originally released in 1982. Back then this was a radically lower price than IBM and Apple were offering, Commodore boasting that they were bringing computers to the people.

The VIC-Pro with its beefier spec is a pretty high $895, and the streamlined Slim is the lowest at $395. These two are available three weeks after order, while the C64 should be sent out some time in late May.

But would you want one? They really do look like a very clunky way of buying a non-portable netbook, and you can just as easily plug your netbook into a TV or larger monitor if you’re after that. Is the nostalgia enough for anyone?

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Who am I?

John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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