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back to article Undead Commodore 64 comes back for Christmas

The Commodore 64 will rise from the grave before Christmas, according to the tiny company determined to reanimate the long-dead 80s icon. Commodore USA — the outfit that seemed to unveil a reincarnated C64 before failing to secure the rights to the name — has at long last signed an agreement with the rights holders, and …

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WTF?

Spectrum ZX81

Next they'll be reintroducing the ZX81 with all new components, what a joy it will be to work with that keyboard again :P

Seriously though how can anyone expect to cover costs let alone make money on something like this, its not like people will be lining up in their millions to buy this.

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Happy

i win lol

The C64 was/is better than the specy :)

I hope they make a Turbocharged Vic 20

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Anonymous Coward

vic 20

I had my uncle's Vic 20 passed down to me as a child. Great machine. I remember playing a text based adventure called Voodoo Castle and you could save your progress to a C90 cassette tape

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Them's fightin' words

Them's fightin' words .....

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You're kidding, right?

Those of us of a certain age will kill to obtain one. I personally am already negotiating a mortgage on my mother-in-law and my eldest daughter in order to buy two.

GJC

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Voodoo Castle

Wow.... I'd forgotten about that one!

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Megaphone

@Parsifal Vanity

Ever hear of a vanity press? They don't all make money, but the editors are dead cool!

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i bet

you get that a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

Why bother?

Who would actually be interested in buying one?

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Me

I'd be super interested in one. I still have my original C64 but needless to say it doesn't quite meet today's computing standards.

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Me

Depending on the price, me. I was a Spectrum lad in the 80s but the C64 has a keyboard I can see myself still using. I'd love one of these hooked up to the telly (CRT of course!), running Linux.

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Happy

Me too

I know it's a bit silly, but I just want one too. And now I'm old enough to indulge my petty whims in a way my 12-year-old younger self could only dream of.

As an aside, I just spent £25 on a top-of the range 'educational' gyroscope after a similar 'fuck it, I want one, so I'm going to get one' moment. Even though I know the (hard) maths, I still think those things are one step from witchcraft.

Happy days.

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Boffin

As a physicist

I can confidently tell you that gyroscopes are not witchcraft, nor even close.

It's demons.

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Alert

OMG!

They've even added a CGI image of something that resembles an Amiga! The screen behind it is definitely showing Workbench windows as well!

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Amiga?

It even has the 'A' keys....

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Nostalgia

Doesn't give you a market unless you hit the price breaks, looking at their website they have failed in that respect.

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Anonymous Coward

Sadly...

...Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

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Anonymous Coward

RUN STOP

I'm thinking like the vic20, the C64 had a runstop key?

They just have to have it attached to view source.... and using opera so that you can edit it on the fly just like you could to cheat on all the old vic 20 games.

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And...

Run/Stop + Restore should function as Ctrl+Alt+Delete!

Now all we need is an Action Replay cartridge for it. Those were the days...

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So load it in without delay...

...Shift-Run/Stop, then press play.

From the "Cauldron" tape insert IIRC

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But will it play ...

... all my old C64 games ?

It would be really, really nice if this machine came preloaded with a C64 emulator, and a bunch of games ...

.. and a cassette player ...

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Curious legal situation

It's difficult to sell C64 emulators because of the system ROMs -- Commodore Licensing don't own the copyright on them, and no-one knows who does. A few people have sold emulators and no-one has sued yet, but if someone works out who actually owns the copyright a year or two down the line there may be a sudden demand for a thick royalty cheque....

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Might be first time the case housed a decent OS

No mention of what OS it runs, but even if it comes with Windows 7, I bet you'll be able to run Linux on it, which will be first time a C64 case actually housed a decent OS. Lets face it, the C64's OS and BASIC were both awful and it was only saved by having good audio and hardware sprite support which, if you avoided using OS or BASIC calls (both of which were utterly dire as I said), did lead to some good games.

A better exercise might be to put a modern PC's innards inside a case that originally housed the best 8-bit OS and BASIC of all time - the BBC Micro! And one of the boot options would, of course, just boot into a BBC Micro emulation environment....

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Cut commodore some slack.

It's not like they had a lot with which to work. We may think of 64KiB as chump change now, but back in 1982, even 5K (the RAM in the VIC-20) was not cheap, and 64K (the RAM of the Commodore, and don't forget the ROM chips) was such that most systems didn't pack that much memory until RAM prices dropped later in the decade. If the BBC Micro had a better OS, it had more ROM with which to work it (32KiB vs. 20KiB for the C64). Both found their places, however, and I used a C128 as my first personal computer, so I'll let it go at that.

What I want to know is how they will adapt the C64's keyboard for the modern computing environment. After all, just for an example, modern PCs now routinely expect 12 rather than 8 function keys, and all of them can themselves be shifted, controlled, alt'ed, etc. And speaking of which, there's a whole bunch of other keys that are practically needed today.

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Happy

The C64 OS was actually pretty decent!

Save for one thing - the serial bus code - which had to be rushed by Robert Russell because some idiot cost-cutter in California took out the high-speed circuit tracks that the C64 was supposed to use for faster IEC devices (just like the C128, 1570, 1571 and 1581 drives). Russell had a week to fix the problem with code - just one week - and it did not help matters that the VIC-II chip in the C64 would steal cycles across the bus every time it started drawing a new line on the screen, which the old VIC graphics chip in the VIC-20 did not. But even that was later fixed by an enterprising outfit called CMD, and you can still buy JiffyDOS from Jim Brain Innovations - useful if you have an old C64 kicking about.

The OS did what it needed to, and thanks to Commodore's forward thinking, it was possible to code rudimentary UNIX shell-style programs that could fetch characters, write characters, open and close files, etc - thanks to the kernal [sp] jump table at $FF00-$FFF9 (excluding 'RRBY'). You could port such programs written on the PET or VIC-20, and they would work on the C64. C64 programs written in such a way were also forward-compatible with the C128 in its native mode.

Yes, the Commodore BASIC (actually re-badged Microsoft BASIC with a few tweaks) was truly dire, especially when compared to the masterpiece Sophie Wilson wrote for the BBC. But the cost of the extra ROM space required for something like BASIC v4 (which was used on the C16 and Plus/4) was not something that Jack Tramiel was willing to pay for. It was not an engineering decision - simply management. Jack got a lot of things right, but not everything.

I also grew up with the Acorn BBC Micro (and Master 128) at school, but compared to the C64, those were never computers of any relevance outside schools and other educational instututions. Why? Quite simply, it came down to cost. When I bought a C64 back in 1988, it cost me £150 - and it came with a lightgun, datasette and a few games and utilities. Most importantly, I could plug it straight into the television - I didn't need to buy a monitor, which would have been at least an extra £200 at the time.

The BBC did not come equipped as such, and the most basic tape model being sold by most mail-order outfits went for about £600 - four times the price - because you had to buy a monitor. 80-column mode is all very well, but you have to pay for it. If you wanted disk? Well, that would be £800, sir. By comparison, £300 could get you a disk-based C64 - and you could actually buy a serious collection of games for the C64 on both tape and disk. I know Superior Software produced quite a bit for the Beeb, but to be honest, next the the C64's graphics and sound capabilities, the Beeb was left seriously wanting. Even if you ignored sprites and sound on the C64, the simple fact that you were not restricted to a digital RGBCMYW+black palette on the C64 meant that you could start using colour quite seriously: The C64 used analogue colour, and so it was easy to provide a 16-colour palette.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a serious Acorn fan. I spent (mis-spent?) many, many evenings in front of the school's BBC Micro machines, hacking, until I got a C64 of my own. But even then, when the Archimedes machines arrived afterward, I spent plenty of time hacking on those as well - especially after the age of 16, which was when I was made system administrator of my school's brand-new Econet (gasp!) network of ten A3000s and a coupld of Acorn FileStores. But the C64 was arguably the best 8-bit machine that was ever made - not the BBC Micro. In a way, now, I'm really thankful that the C64's BASIC was so dire, because it pushed me to learn assembler far more quickly than I would ever have done if I had owned a BBC or Archimedes. Once you did that, and got to write code that fully utilised the available hardware (including fun stuff like raster interrupts for sprites and light pens/guns), it really taught you about hardware.

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BBC B

Could conenct to a TV out of the box - mine never saw an RGB monitor in all the years I was clocking up "Right on Commander!"s

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WTF?

@Oliver Jones

tl;dr

I bet you're a real hoot on a night out at the pub.

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FAIL

Nvidia Ion2 graphics?

Nvidia Ion2 graphics? it wont be able to run much more than C64 games with that

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@ Nvidia Ion2 graphics

If hooked up to a TV to make it authentic, that resolution is low enough Ion2 can play most modern games, unless you turn all the eyecandy up too high like reviewers do trying to find the differences in discrete GPUs.

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Headmaster

The Ion

is a damn sight better than the intel graphics crap built into the atom chip

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Linux

Put the commie next to the TV where it belongs.

> Nvidia Ion2 graphics? it wont be able to run much more than C64 games with that

It will be able to decode BluRay.

That means that it could be an interesting sort of HTPC with the wierd retro case and the built in keyboard.

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the amigo

They also do a system called the Amigo which i think may get them in trouble with the owners of the Amiga trademark as i commodore don't own the Amiga trademark

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Workbench windows?

shirley you mean windows Workbench?

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Headmaster

titular distillation

No, he means Intuition windows and gadgets, rendered to the public screen of Workbench.

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Looks more like...

...MUI windows/gadgets to me. (Notice the pattern in the windows? Intuition or Gadtools couldn't do that... I think?!)

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Welcome

Title goes here

But will it feature a genuine SID chip for the ultimate C64 retro experience? Nah, I thought not, no chance at all.

Anyhow nice idea, I hope they get the price right otherwise they are liable to sell very few to only the very hardest of the retro computer geeks.

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38911MB Free

Sacrilege!

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WTF?

Travesty!

Is this the dimmest idea ever? I was expecting a 1-chip C64 that did what a C64 does, not something that isn't even remotely a C64. What next, "QUAD CORE XEON Apple I recreated" ? Jet-powered Wright brothers Airplane faithful replica?

This thing is complete nuts!

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Been there, done that.

The C64 DTV:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C64_Direct-to-TV

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Brilliant idea

but the games are all wrong. I mostly played ACE, Hyper Sports, Head over Heels, Trailblazer, Parallax, Strider, Starglider and Elite. At least they have Impossible Mission, though.

Must get my old C64 and assorted gear out of the loft this weekend.

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Paris Hilton

I would expect the new C64 to be 64-bit

ISTR that 64-bit Atoms are available. Would it not be better for the modern machine for the masses to be 64-bit rather than 32? I think it might also be neat-o if it came with a well-configured Vice setup. Or one could get a whole bunch of stuff in Commodore Forever from Cloanto.

Paris, one well-configured vice.

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It is...

"""ISTR that 64-bit Atoms are available. Would it not be better for the modern machine for the masses to be 64-bit rather than 32?"""

The Atom D525 /is/ 64 bit - there was a link to the Intel spec page and everything.

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Paris Hilton

Thank you.

Sweet indeed, thank you for pointing that out. I completely missed ElReg's link to the Intel specs. For some reason, I had a "Z" series stuck in my head as 64-bit. I will poke around to verify my recollection.

One thing I noticed at Commodore's site was they have AROS listed as an offered OS, but with no price on it. That is a little exciting, and one would hope it would help with exposure for the project. This little bad-boy with Commodore Forever and Amiga Forever would be fun.

Paris, fun little bad-boy.

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Price for Aros?

Its free.

http://aros.sourceforge.net/

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TWB

@joejack

Your post made me smile as I had a PET from 1979 to around 1988....oh the days of 1 second boot ups....

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Headmaster

Lorks oh lordy a title.........

The PC inside a keyboard will rise again. Mark these words......

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Hmmmm....

That's actually an interesting thought.

Currently we've got the PC+Display combo going strong....

but why not go back to having the PC in the keyboard?

It'd keep your hands warm for starters!

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Anonymous Coward

I'm pretty sure

A hobbyist did this a number of years ago, hollowed out their old C64 and shoehorned the guts of a laptop into it for a bit of fun.

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I see what you did there...

An Anonymous Coward states:

"A hobbyist did this a number of years ago, hollowed out their old C64 and shoehorned the guts of a laptop into it for a bit of fun."

You must be thinking of this mod, posted on mini-itx.com:

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/c64/

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Boffin

BBC Micro next?

Believe it or not, even the good old BBC Micro is not dead yet! There's a suite of them at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley, where A level students are learning how to do *real* programming, without all the hand holding modern IDEs offer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-10951040

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