Return of the Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 was the second computer I owned. The first was a Timex Sinclair (an ancient bit of technology that used a tape recorder for storing programs, and had a too-small, inflexible chicklet keyboard. Of course, it’s big advantage was that it was mine — while my mom taught me to program on an Apple II+, the Timex was the computer that I wrote my first original programs on.

The Commodore was a huge leap leap forward. For one, I got to hook it up to the spiffy new color TV I got for Confirmation. For another, it had an external floppy drive! No more having to carefully advance through the tape recorder, looking for exactly the right number to execute my program at. And the Commodore 64 had an amazing 64 kilobytes of memory, which made it ideal as a gaming platform for one of my all time favorite computer rpgs: Ultima II.

And now the Commodore is back. Commodore USA has released a new version that has the same, familiar (some might say hideous) tan exterior but a radically different interior. According to CNN, the new $595 comes with a “a dual-core 1.8 Ghz Atom processor, Nvidia Ion2 graphics chipset, up to 4 GB of RAM and HDMI output for desktop viewing on TV. It also features USB connectivity, a multi-format memory card reader and Wi-Fi capability.”

It’s a far cry from the Commodore that I once owned, but I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous pang of nostalgia for my old, long-dead computer when I saw the CNN story.