If you were into computers in the 1980’s there’s a good chance that you either owned or had access to one of the best selling computers of all time, the Commodore 64. The “C64” as it was commonly known as, introduced countless youngsters to the digital world and served as the platform upon which the star programmers of the future would first learn their craft. If you’ve ever wondered what the C64 might have evolved into in this day and age, then you needn’t wonder anymore.
Founded in 2010, Commodore USA, LLC has recreated the C64 with the vision of bringing back the infamous Commodore computing experience in the modern age, complete with the “character” that the original computer seemed to have.
From what we can tell, Commodore has mimicked the Macintosh model, in other words, package modern, state-of-the-art PC computing hardware in a proprietary shell, and provide a customized version of Linux as the operating system. In this case the “shell” is a remake of the original C64 chassis filled with the latest PC hardware and I/O ports, with the keyboard and circuitry all integrated into one unit. They have even gone so far as to mimic the original look and feel of the keyboard including the click of the keys, which was a major part of the C64’s original character. The company’s website also states that localized versions of the keyboard will be made available.
Spec wise, the system is currently comprised of the following: 2.13Ghz 64-bit Dual Core D2700 Atom processor, GeForce GT 520, 4Gb of DDR3 memory, DVD RW/Blue Ray reader, card readers, USB slots, Bluetooth connectivity, 1080p HD playback, 802.11n wireless, HDMI, DVI, LAN, full audio (not disclosed on website) and support for SATA drives.
But probably the most important part of any computer is the operating system and availability of applications. The new C64 includes Commodore’s new 64-bit operating system called Commodore OS Vision which is based on GNU Linux. This OS takes the best attributes of both the original Commodore 64 as well as the features found in later versions of the Amiga operating systems and packages them together along with the latest advances in OS features and technology.
While critics have been quick to point out that the OS is really just Linux with a nice user interface, an observation we don’t disagree with, the development team must still be applauded for their efforts in bringing back a sense of fun and polish which has been lost in modern day PC’s, not to mention the rich set of applications they’ve included.
The OS includes emulators to run classic C64 8-bit era software as well as Amiga programs. And like the new Macs, the system can also run the latest versions of Windows and distributions of Linux, both natively and as virtual machines within Commodore OS Vision. Best of all the OS can also be downloaded for free and run on your standard PC (we have successfully tested it on a VMWare virtual machine).
While the original system was best known for games, the new C64 can be used for both games and productivity. Included is an MS Office compatible suite and desktop publishing programs as well as a wide variety of open source software, not to mention full internet connectivity and browsing capabilities. For those who need programming capabilities or are raising the next generation of star programmers, the unit supports the latest programming environments including BASIC, Java, C/C++, PHP, Perl, VB.NET, C#, Python and HTML to name a few.
While it’s not clear from the website just how widely publicized or accessible this system is, there is no question that they will have a loyal following of computer users from the 80’s. In fact they even encourage you to say “I’m a Commodore” or “I’m an Amiga” to poke fun at the advertising slogans of “competitors” in recent years. So if you want to return to a time of “fun computing” or perhaps introduce your kids to an era of computing that existed before the world of disposable PC hardware, then check out Commodore USA’s website at: http://www.commodoreusa.net//CUSA_Home.aspx.