Back when the world of personal computing was young, Commodore computers pretty much were the ones to beat. The company offered a pretty compelling argument, if you’re going to spend money on a gaming platform, why not spend it on an actual computer that played awesome (for the time) video games instead.
With the success of the company’s entry level personal computer, the VIC 20, Commodore released their next generation platform the C64 in 1982. This 8-bit wonder machine offered an unheard of 64K standard memory, standard audio and video that was better than IBM and Apple’s offerings, all for a mere $595 which was far less expensive than anything comparable. It game with a built in RF modulator which allowed you to connect it to a TV and came built in with the Basic programming language on startup. Nothing could come close to that at the time.
Commodore Data Cassette
The machine’s success came in part from Commodore’s decision to offer it through regular retail outlets, department stores and toy retailers as well as regular electronic stores. This coupled with the availability of over 10,000 titles helped push the total number of units sold to almost 17 million worldwide making it the best selling personal computer model of all time according to the Guiness Book of World Records.
Despite its success and the release of newer and more powerful models, Commodore struggled and went bankrupt in 1994. As with most things these days, old is new again.
Commodore USA has bought the rights and will be releasing a modernized version of the C64 featuring modern guts including a dual core 1.8Ghz Atom processor, Nvidia video chipset, up to 4GB of ram, memory readers, USB ports, HDMI outputs and built in WiFi. The price ? Just like 1982 starting at just $595. I’m not sure what that really says about technology when you think about it. I have more computing power in my toaster than the original C64 and it only cost me $20. Having said that, I can’t play any games with it.
Pre-orders have been strong and or many nostalgic users it will surely be a hit. The company plans to revive the VIC and Amiga lines as well which could take this whole retro thing to a whole new level. Rather than having gadgets that look modern and high tech, it will be far hipper to have a clunky looking thing that kicks technical butt. I’m sure Motorola is watching this with eager anticipation.