Commodore 64 resurrected and rebooted

Commodore 64 helped jumpstart the computer revolution. Now, the vintage machine is making a comeback. Can the Commodore 64 rise again?

The Commodore 64 is back. Here, an original Commodore 64 is pictured at a press conference in Munich, Germany.

The Commodore 64 – an 8-bit machine kitted out with what's now an underwhelming 64 KBs of RAM – helped jumpstart the age of the personal computer. And now, almost three decades since the release of the C64, Commodore is releasing a new version of its famous computer, which retains the retro looks of the original, and adds a range of next-generation firepower, including an Intel Atom dual-core processor and a Nvidia Ion graphics chipset.

"It looks just like the original Commodore 64, with even the old-style keyboard," Barry Altman, chief executive of Commodore USA, told the Los Angeles Times this afternoon. "In fact, that keyboard was the biggest accomplishment of all, so far. The keys look like a piece of clay that you pushed a marble into – so it fits your fingertip."

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The Commodore 64 will ship this summer, at a range of price points: $250 for a "Barebones" shell; $595 for a working base unit; and about $900 for an "Ultimate" edition C64, with a 1TB hard drive and Blu-Ray capability. All the Commodore machines will run the Ubuntu OS, and have the added bonus of giving you massive amounts of retro hipster cred. But is the Commodore 64 really worth a few hundred bucks?

"It’s a cute gimmick, to be sure, and one that would surely sell well if it didn’t cost so much. As it is, there must be a very limited set of customers willing to drop big money on a novelty Ubuntu box," writes Charlie Sorrel of Wired. "And anyway, the real nerds will be waiting for Commodore’s next big project: The resurrection of the majestic Amiga, albeit in the shape of a DVD player."

All that interest in the Commodore 64 seems to have short-circuited the Commodore site; when things do get up and running, you can check out the retro machine here. In the meantime, to stay abreast of all the latest tech news – vintage computer-related or not – sign up for the free weekly Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday.

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