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Commodore 64 returns, revamped

A Florida company is selling a new version of the Commodore 64 computer with the same look but updated insides.

April 08, 2011|By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Los Angeles Times

Commodore 64, the hottest-selling personal computer in the 1980s, is back — with the same bulky breadbox look but updated with the latest technology.

Appealing to nostalgic computer buffs, a Florida company re-created the PC and began selling it Tuesday. The company, Commodore USA, said it sold out the first batch in 24 hours. It declined to say how many units that was. The company licensed the rights to the Commodore trademark last September.

"It looks just like the original Commodore 64, with even the old-style keyboard," said Barry Altman, Commodore USA's chief executive. "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."

The price for the new Commodore 64 basic model is even the same as it was for a similar base unit in 1982: $595.

The original had 64 kilobytes of memory, which was just enough for basic word processing and some simple video games. The new one has 4 gigabytes — about 4 million kilobytes.

"We expected our audience to be the nostalgia crowd, and that's true, a lot of people buying them owned an original Commodore 64 back in the '80s," Altman said. "But we're also finding that there are young kids who are geek geniuses who have iPhones and iPads and things like that and they're looking at this thing and they're into it. They've actually been a big part of our customer base so far too. It's been a surprise."

nathan.olivarezgiles@latimes.com

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