The return of the C64 ?

Apr 07

There are some things everybody remembers. Their first girlfriend, their first car, their first kiss and of course, and of course, their first computer. For me that was a beige Commodore 64 (With brown keys) that I had gotten in 1986. At that time my older brother had bought it for my dads company and would use it for the paperwork and stuff. One of his buddies even came over to hand-program an accounting program for my parents to use in basic. I remember gawking in stunned fascination as I would stare over my brothers shoulder as the white cursor would blink on the blue background. Somehow I knew, I wanted one to. So I saved up untill I had the money and instead of waiting for my parents to take us to the shop, I just plonked down the envelope with the correct amount of cash on my brothers desk, and made of with the C64 !

After that (well, first my brother got mad at me) but after THAT came data recoders, giant floppy drives, matrix printers, power cardridges, games and even some word processing applications. In short, the C64 was my gateway drug into computing. Somehow i’ve always ‘held on’ to that C64. Nostalgia ? perhaps. If we geeks can be accused of one thing in this ever faster flowing technological world, then it HAS to be pointless, ungrounded nostalgia with ‘old things’. Even to this day the C64 still resides in our house where it sleeps softly (along with my big plans to revive it one day) 

That geek-nostalgia has also been what has powered the “continuation” of the Commodore legacy. (Not the machines, Just the brand) Even when the Commodore company went belly up in 1996, there have been several “deals” where the brandname ‘Commodore’ was bought up by some company. Every time it would be a hype ! “Commodore is coming back, Commodore is coming back..” geeks would should across the digital block sinus waves of the interweb. The last time I remember that it was some Chinese MP3 player company that bought the name and promised to ship simple MP3 players with nostalgic names like the ‘Amiga’ and the ‘vic 20’. But just like the times before when the buzz-machine had .. buzzed .. it turned out to be vaporware.

So yesterday the C64 buzz-machine cranked out another beep in my feed when I read about an American company that is planning to ship a “modern day” computer in a classic C64 casing. Not a bad idea since you can probably stack 4 netbooks into that bold brown housing. According to the company you can even buy an empty ‘housing’ and shove in your own hardware, or you can buy prebuilt models at (to me) pretty high prices.

The question is ? Is all that Nostalgia really worth it ? 29 years ago the C64 might have looked hip and cool. These days the fat brown casing would make for pretty un-ergonomic writing and wrist pains.  

But hey, your Computer NEEDS a case right ? You can choose for some slim sleek led-infested plexi-glass 70’s disco with a main board inside, but it would be much cooler to have a C64 parked on your desk !  So hey .. why not ! 

And here I am getting al exited again about the C64, but when visiting the website, my vaporware sensor starts to tingle. No contact information, no “actual” pictures (just 3D mockups), even a cross platform promo with the new TRON movie ? It all sounds a little good to be true. The models are available for pre-order and even though the website looks like it came out of a 1997 “Microsoft Frontpage project abortion clinic” my mouse still hovers over the 250 euro ‘bare bone’ option. Do I want to pay now ? No thanks, I’ll wait until I actually SEE the products in the wild.

I hope other geeks also weigh their sence of nostalgia and times gone by against the risks of handing cash to yet another C64 revival. Patience is a virtue. And remembering the hours of “waiting around” we did for games to load on the C64, I think I can muster up some patience too.

So how about you ? Did you have C64 ? Do you still have it ? Do you think the new Commodore 64 is just a dream in a bottle ?  


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