back to article Commodore 64 reincarnated as quad-core Ubuntu box

The Commodore 64 has been reincarnated as a 3GHz quad-core PC with 3D graphics, Gigabit Ethernet, a DVD-RW drive, and a 500GB hard disk. All that's left is the built-in keyboard. And the name. In this case, that 64 can only mean a 64-bit processor - not 64 kilobytes of memory. Memory's up to a decidedly un-1980s eight gigabytes …

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Gold badge
FAIL

Great!

I want one of th.........oh......hang on.....no I don't.

Sorry, I let nostalgia get the better of common sense for a moment there. I wonder just how large a market "people who remain nostalgic long enough for the distance selling cooling off period to expire" is?

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We've already got one of those

We've already got one of those machines, but not at those specs. It is a Cybernet ZPC-9000 and they are a piece of shit! If the new one performs like the old then it is a big no no.

Of course, I haven't tried Linux on it. I am waiting for my boss to finally give up on it (he keeps saying he will) and pass it over for me to give it an attempted resurrection. At the moment it has Windows Dead Person, er I mean Windows XP on it.

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FAIL

Meh

Doesn't have ANY of the charm of the C=64 :-/ And the internal drives and stuff just make it half a laptop. Fail.

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Happy

Pah...

every one knows the Xbox is shit and the PS3 roks....

Oh sorry...

Yeah everyone know the C64 is shit and the speccy is king...it may be more powerful, but where are the games...

I'm off for a quick game of Attic Attack follwed by Manic Miner.

See boys and girls...same old, same old....

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Needs to run AmigaOS

cos it's more Amiga than C64 with that built-in disk drive. And if they really want nostalgia they need the cheap plastic rather than cheap chrome. Plus the trackpad looks awful. Sorry. I'm sticking with my MacBook.

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Alert

Cooling?

Surely a decent Quad core chip will never get sufficient cooling in such a small box?

Even if it does at first, I can see heat becoming a big issue a few months down the

line.

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Thumb Up

Color or colour

The home computers were all colour. The PET was monochrome. But then I seem to remember the Apple was monochrome right up to the 1990's whilst the 64 had sprites and dazziling graphics. Tramel then made the Atari ST which was actually pretty good and cheaper than the Amiga.

I suspect that it was lack of compatibility which saw the end of most of the 1980's computers.

If only the MSX, Japanese Z80 machines had come out a bit sooner, we may have seen the home computer evolve into the machines we use today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSX

Z80 computer manufacturers always seemed to find a way of preventing a disk from one machine being read in another.

However it was the success of Acorns BBC Micro with it's very simple 6502 CPU which sporned the Acron RISC Machine CPU or ARM processor. Varients of this are used in most Windows PDAs and loads of routers and other gadgets with embedded linux.

I think the idea of a 1980's home computer is still valid since home computers were very big as games machines. Perhaps encouraging the use of a keyboard on a PS3 might be better. Perhaps encouraging people to plug their console into a proper monitor would also help.

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Anonymous Coward

That's not a Commodore 64

and it looks shit.

Buying the Commodore name as a cheap marketing gimmick won't impress anyone if your product is still ugly Chinese import crap.

Who really wants a machine that's fragile and easily breakable like a laptop, but impractical to move like a desktop?

And to reiterate an earlier point, it's so ugly. I had hoped silver painted plastic was finally dead and buried but it seems people just won't stop making this crap. If you think it looks horrible now, picture it in 6 months when your wrists have rubbed the nasty silver paint off to reveal the even nastier grey plastic underneath. No no no!

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C64? Hmmm...

...looks more like a Texas instruments Ti-99/4A to me.

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Anonymous Coward

one word...

BULLSH*T

READY.

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Pint

Pet Sematary

A few comments:

--Why does it have a touchpad? And assuming that's even slightly a good idea, why is it off to the left somewhat?

--No possibility for expansion I guess. Should have made it a full-fledged laptop or at least pretty like a MAC.

--We'd all likely be running Commodore machines these days if Jack Tramiel wasn't such a hothead that used everyone that came across his path and treated every employee he had like utter shit. C= was full of innovation in those days. If there's any justice, in the next life Tramiel will be reincarnated as Chuck Peddle's toilet.

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Missing one important bit

I see a Shift key, but no Run-Stop.

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Thumb Up

VIC-20 was colour too!

I still have 2 that still work including the switchable 3/16K RAM pack and the "Super Expander" that gave 1024x 1024 addressable resolution ( although colour was limited to 20 x 35 (IIRC) addresses.

Did I mention I still have my ZX81 as well..... :o) although i haven't tested that one in years

I could never afford a C64 so I had to make teh best of my VIC so had it controling relays to open curtains, switch lights etc on/off. All the cabling and exposed connections in my bedroom was the best ever deterrent for keeping an inquisitive Mum away from those magazines you didn't want her to find!!!

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WTF?

OSX

How will OSX work - it's not Apple hardware. You cannot legally buy and run OSX on non-Apple hardware, so how are they planning to do it?

They're even linking to information about EFI, which allows a normal PC to run OSX **ILLEGALLY** on non-Apple hardware.

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STFU

"They're even linking to information about EFI, which allows a normal PC to run OSX **ILLEGALLY** on non-Apple hardware."

The same way that a DVD RW allows me to copy films **ILLEGALLY**.

EFI is an Intel Technology - NOTHING to do with Apple. It's used in Itanium systems I believe. So what's wrong with including EFI with a machine? Not's Apple's tech...

See: www.intel.com/technology/efi

"How will OSX work - it's not Apple hardware"

OSX runs on commodity x86 hardware. Couse it will work. People have it running on standard PC's, on netbooks, servers etc. Get over yourself - OS X is nothing special or unique. (Unless you count Apple's marketing dept. which I realy admire as it's their biggest asset)

"You cannot legally buy and run OSX on non-Apple hardware"

I can legally buy OSX if I want. Their EULA says I shouldn't install it on non-Apple hardware, but the clue is in the title... EU stands for End-User. Unless the hardware reseller installs it for them it's not a problem...

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Jobs Horns

Apple's interesting EULA...

"I can legally buy OSX if I want. Their EULA says I shouldn't install it on non-Apple hardware, but the clue is in the title... EU stands for End-User. Unless the hardware reseller installs it for them it's not a problem..."

This is probably the latest (snow leopard)

ie http://images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/macosx106.pdf

Now take leopard

ie http://images.apple.com/legal/sla/docs/macosx105.pdf

Notice the slight difference in wording? Apple-labelled vs Apple-branded? So as long as I stick an Apple sticker on my generic x86 boxen I should be fine to run OS X Leopard on them (which I have done before but don't btw because I just find linux easier to cope with). Hell, you could dymo up Apple, stick it on and it'll still be legal I would argue.

Snow Leopard might require a wee bit more of a stretch of definition, I guess you could 'brand' an Apple onto your box casing...At any rate I have not bothered with a snow leopard upgrade to my macs (because my intel one runs fine at the moment, and for my powerpc...I needn't mention Apple's neglect of ppc).

Seriously, until they make decent affordable desktop boxen I can see well why hackintoshes exist.

Oh, and Apple, if you're reading, I'd just like to take this opportunity to flip you the bird.

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Linux

Get your facts right

The VIC-20 was a colour machine, and pre-dated the C64. The Commodore PET was B&W IIRC (almost certainly because the VIC-20 was the first colour home computer around). The Apple ][ was green-screen. The Apple ][ was brought out around the time of the Commodore Pet, so why are you including the Apple ][ and the C64 in the same article? Some of us remember those days, even if we were in primary school!

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Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: Get your facts right

Also the VIC 20 had 4 channel sound, including a white noise channel, some of the games that you could load as a cartridge had fabulous graphics and sound for the time. And it was robust as hell (and I don't just mean the case). C64 was just a great evolution of that platform (although I could never afford one).

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Silver badge

Apple ][

There was a color (sic) version of the Apple ][, but the original was black-and-white (actually black-and-green, as Apple only sold a green monitor). I never saw one actually with a coloUr monitor (damn the Yanks and their spelling), but I did use one with a monochrome monitor. It was a PAL model so it could have been that the colour was provided by a third party board, replacing the Apple PAL card.

At the time that the C64 was selling, Apple had moved on to the Apple ][e and the Apple ][c, which were enhanced and compact versions.

I preferred the Beeb myself. Just could not see the attraction of the C64's poor Basic, slower processor, minimal expansion, expensive (and slow!) floppy drives, and lack of bank-switched ROM that allowed you to switch applications on a whim. The (one) hardware sprite, and a more flexible sound hardware did make a difference, but the extensive software interrupt driven sound system on the BBC allowed similar effects to be created, albeit with a greater effort from the programmer.

The C64 was a better system than the Spectrum, though, but that should not detract from the design genius that produced the speccy at the price it sold at.

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Megaphone

RE: Apple ][

"I preferred the Beeb myself. Just could not see the attraction of the C64's poor Basic, slower processor, minimal expansion, expensive (and slow!) floppy drives, and lack of bank-switched ROM that allowed you to switch applications on a whim. The (one) hardware sprite, and a more flexible sound hardware did make a difference, but the extensive software interrupt driven sound system on the BBC allowed similar effects to be created, albeit with a greater effort from the programmer."

The BBC Micro was 6502 based or 6512 based if you had a BBC Micro B (rarer); the Commodore 64 had a Motorola 6510 (later model that the 6502). I personally think the C64 was the better machine but to be honest the BBC Micro wasn't a bad but the C64 had things like the SID chip and Commodore at this time were possibly the best computer company at the time. Also Commodore owned MOS (the 6502 and 6510 manufacturer which gave Tramiel control over the 6502 based markets; I believe from what I've read in "On the edge" that Tramiel really like virtual integration).

Trameil left Commodore as he had a fight with Irving Gould (the Commodore financer) as he wanted his sons to take over from him, Irving didn't agree and Tramiel went off to take over Atari at about the same time that Commodore bought the Amiga design from Hi Toro (which Atari had been previously financing) and then Atari tried to sue Commodore over it - and then we had the Amiga vs Atari wars.

If I remember right Chuck Peddle is responsible for a lot of the extra commands in BASIC for tape control and they bought BASIC rights from Microsoft because Gates didn't believe in the 6502 processor (he like x86 based chips).

I think Woz is silly to even compare the C64 to the Apple 2; the C64 was simply better.. Commodore made some great hardware designs but they didn't all get released due to Commodore management.

The C64 is still the best-selling single personal computer model of all time.

I was and still am an Amiga nut so I know quite a lot about this subject.

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Bronze badge
Coat

Um, not quite.

"The BBC Micro was 6502 based or 6512 based if you had a BBC Micro B (rarer); the Commodore 64 had a Motorola 6510 (later model that the 6502). I personally think the C64 was the better machine but to be honest the BBC Micro wasn't a bad but the C64 had things like the SID chip and Commodore at this time were possibly the best computer company at the time. Also Commodore owned MOS (the 6502 and 6510 manufacturer which gave Tramiel control over the 6502 based markets; I believe from what I've read in "On the edge" that Tramiel really like virtual integration)."

There was nothing rare about the BBC Micro Model B (I still have mine though it has been many years since I booted it), and it ran a 6502A, same as the model A. What you may be thinking of is the Model B+ which Acorn released as a stopgap between the end of the Model B run (the Model A was discontinued earlier) and the original BBC Master. The Model B+ used the same case as a Model B but had a different motherboard run around a 6502B. It is, as you say, a very rare beast but given that it delivered few actual advantages over the Model B and was nowhere near as good as the Master and the Master Compact, it wasn't that big a seller.

As for any comparison between the Apple ][ and the C64, there were a few years between them and, while the Apple did have some impressive addons that could be construed as bringing it into line with everything that the C64 was capable of, the C64 offered it all straight out of the box, and a fraction of the price. That doesn't mean that the Apple was bad; it just belonged to an earlier technology than machines such as the C64, the Beeb and others of the age.

Coat for one...

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Anonymous Coward

Jack Tramiel

I have an Atari 800 and used an Atari ST. The Atari 800 trounced the C64 (OK, perhaps the C64 had a better sound chip). I admit, I was an Atari fanboi. My Atari VCS and Atari 800 are still in my loft.

Jack and his son Sam Tramiel killed Atari.

That said, considering Jack Tramiel's life story, I admire him.

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Go

Not for the first time either

I seem to recall an earlier attempt at doing this.

Called the "Commodore 64 web.it".

Google it, occasionally they appear on ebay too.

It too was a headless laptop. The specs were somewhat less though:

A 486 processor

OS choice of Windows 3.1 or an early version of CE

Think it had Smartsuite installed too.

I seem to recall that the OS was installed on some sort of ROM chip?

The tenuous link it had to the original (other than the licenced name), was a built in C64 emulator, so you could download your favourite C64 tapes (of course, so long as you held the rights to owning the original tape...)

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Happy

Could be a tough audience

......wonder what the purists will think????

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welle_Erdball

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Terminator

the good old days

I had a C64 for my sixth birthday. It was a terminator 2 special edition, came with the game. Best game for me on it was Flimbos Quest and a Circus game, cant remember what the name was. Could spend hours on them games, was better than Mario!

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Thumb Up

Circus game

Fiendish Freddy's Big Top O' Fun

Cracking game!

You had to compete in events to gain enough cash to keep the circus from being closed by a businessman whom you owe money to.

An apt theme, given the current recession. Only this time the clowns are in the banks...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiendish_Freddy%27s_Big_Top_O%27Fun

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Terminator

haha!

yep, thats the game, it had a few other games on the cartridge aswell

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Arfur Lappie?

Well, maybe. But my problem is, I need 6' arms to operate the keyboard and see the screen simultaneously without glasses (I use my Asus 701 with glasses, but it's only occasional use).

Now, to prevent the railway-like grooves getting deeper from constantly having to roll my castor-equipped chair back and forth, this computer means I can position the display away from the keyboard so I'm happy with both. Plus, use the LCD telly as a display when I'm watching pr0 - er, interesting news items.

Oh, sod it. I'll just buy a desktop...

(Shouldn't they be called "Deskunders"*, 'cos that's where everyone sticks 'em nowadays? Maybe not. Bad marketing. A bit too close to "Guzunder" - nick for a chamber pot, so-called 'cos it 'guzunder' the bed)

*Unless they hang from one of those nifty frames one can fit to hang the machine from the bottom of the desk surface, in which case I propose the name "deskudder"

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Stop

Deskunders

' Shouldn't they be called "Deskunders"*, '

Zomg. You're right. Bleeding obvious,innit? But I never thought to think of it that way. Well done.

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erm

64th Comment?!

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FAIL

Not his product, not his badge...

The device is a Cybernet Zero-Footprint-PC.

http://www.cybernetman.com/

Cybernet apear to be a real, typical Taiwan (HQ)-China (Manufacturing)-California (Registered Office) outfit (gotta just love globalisation)

The only thing this guy seems to be doing is suggesting a link with the Commodore branding (which he does not appear to own rights to), and the use of EFI (on a "small, internally mounted module, supplied by others").

Does the name Psystar mean anything to anyone?

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Bloody hell! Well discovered, Sir.

Godalmighty, even the configuration page is the same.

Let's see. I've requested a quote for the same standard configuration as on the commodoreusa webpage.

This'll be interesting...

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Ah, the memories

Every time I see another Commodore article, I remember how things were, and how they could have been. It takes some real skill at knuckleheadedness to piss a company up the wall the way Commodore did. You start off with the biggest-selling and best-quality 8-bit micro (C64). You move on to the biggest-selling and best-quality 32-bit micro (Amiga), which is a full decade ahead of anything that IBM PCs and Apple Macs can give you in terms of performance, the business software is state-of-the-art too, and it's the best games machine in the world. There's a half-dozen magazines devoted solely to your products. How bad does your business sense have to be, if you can't capitalise on that kind of advantage?

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Bronze badge
FAIL

They weren't alone in that

There have been a number of references in this whole thing to Acorn. I'd take issue with this idea about the "best" but one thing certainly links Commodore with Acorn... they both crapped up their marketing. Both companies produced some fine tech, a lot of which still has a bearing on today's machines, but both managed, one way or another, to kill themselves through poor marketing, either by concentrating too heavily on markets that were, at best, transitory, or just by being completely anonymous.

That's one reason why we have been left with the VHS of computers, the "PC", with little left otherwise to choose from (not sure how to fit Apple into all this, especially given their shift closer to generic "PC" boxen in recent times).

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Laptop with no screen.

", according to the company's website."

That is one of the worst websites, I have ever seen.

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FAIL

What you don't see is the external power brick!

The "classic" wedge shape in 2010 is ugly. And the back of the computer will be a complete mess with all those cables coming onto your desk to attach. It looks like a Checkmate A1500 at the rear if anyone remembers that.

And where's the HDMI output to attach to your TV?

No thanks Commodore USA. I would rather have a more compact laptop or a mini tower under my desk. Thanks for the nostalgia but your efforts will sadly be consigned to the dustbin. There are no benefits to this design. We can already buy a cheaper, smaller laptop and use its VGA (or HDMI!) output to a nice big monitor if that's the idea.

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Bronze badge
Grenade

Is this another boxshifter scam?

In 1997, Acorn Computer was finally asset stripped and closed for good, bringing to an end a long line of innovative boxes. Some years later, a company bought the name Acorn from some obscure source and used it to sell PCs. Some claims were made about Acorn being "back" or some such rot, but the people making the claim were made to quickly backpedal as it became clear that all the company was doing was selling PCs, which is hardly the innovation that Acorn Computer was known for.

Now we see a company has bought another name from the past. Commodore was known as a company that produced some innovative machines in the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Lest we forget, the C64 was not alone; you can go right back to the Pet if you like, a machine that was pretty popular in its day, or forward to the various Amiga machines. So what is this company selling?

Sounds like another gimmick to me.

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FAIL

wtf..

why on earth would you still be putting ps2 mouse and keyboard connectors on a pc?? and why no hdmi output option if you want it as a nice all in one.. fails on all levels

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Alert

ps2 connected mouse& Keyboard

Can you actually use USB versions to do the initial OS install? you know, before usb drivers have been installed? (maybe you can, I cannot recall if I have even tried..)

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Linux

Depends on how bad your OS is

If you've got a decent OS (any linux in the last few years, OS X, and any version of windows since, I think XP SP1, possibly even pre-SP1) it's not a problem, most of them have rudimentary drivers for USB devices in the install media. For that matter, most of the current motherboard BIOS will support USB keyboards and mice as well. These days you really have to go out of your way to find a new system that won't work with a USB keyboard.

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Thumb Down

It's not a C64...

It's a PC.

Don't fall for the hype/bullshit/gimmick. It's a PC.

That is all.

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Headmaster

KERNAL

"If you'd prefer an 8-bit processor and the old Commodore kernel, you're out of luck."

If you're talking about old Commodores, it's kernal, not kernel.

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kernal?

Colonel, surel!

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Colonel

Nope, thats the KFC64

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If only...

they crammed the guts of a modern PC into the original C64 housing I would be all over it. Or a nettop into a ZX81, but they would have to included the dodgy RAM pack too :D

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Thumb Down

Nuts to that

Give me a genuine Acorn Electron any day of the week.

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Bronze badge

Another nutter!

Actually, I'd rather nut... er... not. I was never impressed with the Electron's processor arrangement.

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Early Sinclair business model?

When - in the 70's I wanted to learn about these new-fangled 'microprocessors', a director-friend of mine at Courtaulds in Coventry (defunct) told me they were developing around a 4-bit processor, the Intel 4040.

He repaid my enthusiasm by giving me the Intel 4040 user manual. I still have it, somewhere.

Unfortunately for me it was the equivalent of being given a pillow-full of feathers, a bottle of glue, a stepladder, a book by a bloke called "Icarus" and told "Now you can learn to fly". I didn't have a clue what the state diagrams, etc. meant.

Couple of years later, I got a Sinclair MK14. Eventually. By 'eventually', I mean that I paid for it, and after several (mostly unanswered) phone calls, it arrived, after about 6 weeks. Cost me a lot of money - can't remember how many shillings, but a lot for me at the time.

Point is, www.commodoreusa.com can't give prices. Neither can www.cybernetman.com/ - they'll send a quote - or call me - I suspect they seem to be just trying to judge the level of interest before they make any. As, I suspect Sinclair did (It was quite successful - 50,000 sold - and to me, it was a godsend)

Caveat emptor.

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Happy

Ahh the MK14!

Now there was a real PC - The Science of Cambridge MK14. It was way ahead of its time* and had a truly amazing spec for 40 quid:-

256 bytes or RAM (could be expanded to a whopping 1/2KB)

A 20-key hexadecimal keyboard.

A gorgeous red on black 7-segment LED display - a full 9 digits wide.

The entire machine was housed in...well, whatever housing you wanted to make.

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Stop

Ah no.

No - not for me. I have a A1200 and a C64 with disk drive at home. Does not look anything like them.

Really though has anyone plugged one in recently? things have moved on people. I do run old games in emulators which show the game play aspect of the old school game designs but I've only ever turned the A1200 on once in recent years. I cant really recomend it.

I don't want it to look like a C64 unless its an exact copy. anything else is a pointless effort.

also it probably does not run "Amiga" since it was never a OS, It might run workbench 3.1 through an emulator, Just like my PC does.

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