The computer that gave birth to wholesale video gaming has been reborn with impressive updates. The Commodore 64 conjures up memories of Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, and PacMan. These early, although simple, video games mesmerized us. The Commodore 64
has been revitalized and updated with Ubuntu 10.04
, PS2 KB/Mouse connectors, Wi-Fi and Blu-ray capabilities.
Commodore C64 gets a Second Life as Atom/ION2 powered retro-machine
The computer still resembles a heavy, beige, doorstop, but its insides are completely rearranged. From its original 64KB (that’s kilobytes) of memory and 16 color display, the Commodore 64 is now capable of 4GB and touts a Next-Generation NVIDIA ION Graphics Processor. Being fitted with the new Commodore OS, the machine is backwards compatible and can run classic 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit era software via emulation, as well as handling Windows 7. The operating system is described as being accessible to both new and old Commodore owners while featuring today’s paradigms. The computer is meant to champion the open source movement and includes open source games and applications.
Thirty years ago, the Commodore competed with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum
in the UK. In the US, the Commodore 64 came out against the Atari and Apple, beating them on price, with the slogan; "You can't buy a better computer at twice the price."
Its price, $595, is again a plus for its entre into the 2011 marketplace. Oddly,
the price tag is no different from its 1982 debut. We will leave the implications of deflation, cost versus features, and marketing ploys to other pundits. For now, let’s take the sales pitch at face value. The latest 64 is priced (assembled) in the middle of the renewed Vic 20’s that Commodore is also offering - the Vic Pro at $895 and the Vic Slim with an ergonomic keyboard at $395. You can get a Commodore DIY model for $250 and add your own components.
Early versions were fodder for hardware tinkerers, while many programmers began their careers using BASIC the programming language that came with the Commodore 64. They created programs that were available at no cost as freeware or shareware, the forerunner of what we call open source. Today’s model comes with advanced software development tools and languages. The back panel of the new Commodore 64 would confound its original users. The computer is equipped now with a 12V DC Jack, PS2 KB/Mouse connectors, HDMI, DVI-D, VGA, four USB 2.0 ports, an RJ45 LAN (10/100/1000) and three 3.5mm Audio with S/PDIF out. The classic power light has become the power button.
The 64 kilobyte home computer that debuted at the January 1982 Winter Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has joined the modern age, after historical trials and tribulations. The company began with 200 IBM electric typewriters which they repaired and resold. It moved into calculators, and then into computers at the behest of engineer Chuck Peddle
. During the mid 1980’s over a three year span, Commodore sold 6 million units
, outselling IBM PC clones, Apple, and Atari computers.
Ironically, Commodore’s founder, Jack Tramiel
left the company in 1984, only to resurface later as owner of the Atari Corporation. He was described as a tough, brawling businessman, who had a colorful history of survival and building businesses on questionable ethics. After enduring the horrors of imprisonment at Auschwitz, the German concentration camp, he said he figured he could handle just about anything.
Unfortunately, the company he founded couldn’t. Several factors led to its demise. Commodore International eventually filed for bankruptcy in April 1994 and liquidated its assets. In 2004, the Commodore computer brand which had been acquired by Tulip Computers of the Netherlands was sold to Yeahronimo
, a US firm that primarily was distributing digital music. The price tag
was 24 million Euros ($32.7 million USD). Commodore 64 Basic V2 says "Hello World" few years ahead of other home computer which made this program famous
Six years later, in September, 2010, Barry Altman
, coming from the satellite / space telecommunications industry bought the Commodore trademark and is now founder, president, and CEO of Commodore USA. He was not intending to create a replica of the old Commodore 64. However, those plans changed when he acknowledged
its die hard fan base. The enthusiasts who still hold annual events related to the Commodore 64 have been referred to as a cult. You can find several websites devoted to the once-thought-dead, computer. The Commodore 64 is ready once again to say "Hello World."
There were hours of enjoyment and wasted time attributed to the Commodore series. Comparable to the proliferation of Apple Apps today, programmers were able to kick out game after game after game. Most were made available to the public at no charge, but many were of a commercial variety. Commodore had a software library of close to 10,000 titles including both games and business applications. Piracy, as well as poor management, is rumored to have been part of Commodore’s demise. Now many of the classic titles are available for download from the web. Don’t be surprised at how simple they are. Space Invaders only lets you move left and right with the arrow keys, Up and Down don’t even exist in this game. Your one defense is the space bar which only shoots straight up in this old game. Click here to play the classic Commodore games
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