Given that we’ve just had April Fools Day, my immediate reaction on reading the news that the Commodore 64 was about to be relaunched was that it must have been a joke that was just slow in getting to me. But no, apparently it is no joke and the good old Commodore 64 is indeed coming back.
Except of course it isn’t. Not really. Sure Commodore are bringing back something that looks like a Commodore 64, right down to the little red power LED at the top right of the machine, but look closer and you’ll notice the keyboard isn’t quite right (four cursor keys and five function keys – I remember having to use shift to move the cursor up and left) and the ports on the side and back of the machine look distinctly PC like.
Yep, it is of course modern PC components somehow squeezed into a C64 shaped shell. That said, it isn’t quite as clean cut as being a Windows based PC. I’ve read that it presumably can run Windows, but when you buy it you get a version of the Linux operating system, whilst we’re waiting for Commodore OS to turn up.
This is where it becomes perhaps a little more interesting, as Commodore OS is supposed to be a new modern operating system (presumably based on Linux) with the ability to run software from any of the plethora of Commodore brand computers from the Vic-20 through to the Amiga.
Speaking of those latter two computers, it’s also the case that both the Vic and the Amiga are to be likewise souped up and turned into PCs. The Vic machines kind of look like long thin laptops without screens, whilst all that is currently being shown of the Amiga range are large boxy looking cases into which it appears you can insert whatever PC gear you want.
So will these machines be a success. Frankly, I was a big Commodore fan as a kid (indeed I kept my Amiga going right into the mid nineties, when most other people had long abandoned ship) but even I don’t think this is ever going to be much of a success. Somehow I feel a bit cheated, almost dirtied by it all, and I would almost rather that they just re-released that original 8-bit wonder machine as it was, but then I still have mine in the attic so I wouldn’t buy that either.
If you’re curious to learn more then head on over to the Commodore USA website for more information.