Commodore 64 is back from the dead

No one misses the screeching tape drives, primitive graphics and 20-minute load times of the 8-bit home computing craze, but you have to admit they don't make keyboards like the Commodore 64's anymore. Until now, that is, as Commodore USA says the classic beige wedge is getting a new lease of life as an Atom PC.

At this point it's worth pointing out that the manufacturer isn't the original Commodore of the 1980s, with Jack Tramiel and all. Commodore USA is a new firm that was founded this year, and has now licensed the Commodore brand from Commodore Licensing B.V. And nope, that's not the original Commodore either.

Even so, Commodore USA promises its new PC64 will feature an "exact replica" of the 8-bit machine's original beige chassis. Sadly, the specs aren't going to blow anyone away, but the machine should suffice as a novelty nettop.

Inside the retro case you'll get a 1.8GHz Atom D525, 4GB of DDR3 memory, a 1TB hard drive and an Nvidia Ion2 graphics chip. There's also an optional Blu-Ray drive, and an HDMI output to plug into the telly; perfect for recreating the lounge-floor BASIC coding days.

Meanwhile, a dual-link DVI connector will enable you to hook up the PC64 to a standard monitor, and you also get 802.11n WiFi, a Bluetooth adaptor, six USB ports and a media card reader.

Commodore USA's CEO Barry Altman claimed the "reintroduction of this legendary form factor, combined with the world's most recognisable consumer electronics brand, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We look forward to bringing these new products to market, and welcoming a whole new generation of computer users to the Commodore experience."

In this case, however, it looks as though the "Commodore experience" sadly means an extremely low-end basic PC, rather than a cutting-edge, innovative home computer such as the Amiga or PET.

Commodore USA has already experimented with the keyboard-based PC design with its Phoenix range of PCs, as well as its Amigo (see what they've done there?) systems. These, says the company, have "once again catapulted the Commodore namesake to the forefront of consumer electronics brand recognition."

We have to say that planet Commodore USA sounds like a very different place from planet Earth, especially as this apparently also passes for a professional company website.

Commodore USA says the new beige retro boxes will be available to buy "this holiday season," which means somewhere around Christmas this year if you don't live in the US.