Commodore Is Being Resurrected as a Smartphone

By: 
July 22, 2015

The Commodore brand is looking to resurrect itself in the smartphone market.

Perhaps nothing is quite as iconic in '80s tech culture as the 8-bit Commodore 64 (C64), the highest-selling single computer model of all time, and arguably the most easily programmable computer ever made.

Taking part of its name from its 64 kilobytes of RAM, and boasting bestselling games like "Bubble Bobble," "Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders," "Wizball," and "Paradroid," the C64 paved the way for the personal computing industry before tragically going bust in 1994.

Since then, the brand has been bandied about, with its trademark ownership changing hands fairly frequently.

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But now, the name isn't just in new hands, it is being plastered on a new handset. Massimo Canigiani and Carlo Scattolini, two Italian entrepreneurs, have acquired the rights to the brand Commodore Business Machines Ltd. and are bringing it back via an Android smartphone.

Called PET, after Commodore's other iconic PC, the midrange phone boasts a custom Android 5.0 Lollipop  build which includes two customized emulators (VICE 64 and Uae4All2-SDL Amiga) so users can play both old C64 and Amiga games on it. The team behind the product is also said to be working with unnamed software houses to bring some of the iconic '8,0s games to PET's small screen before shipping.

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Sporting an aluminum frame with a hot swappable polycarbonate backplate, the device boasts a 5.5-inch IPS Full HD display with Gorilla Glass 3 and a MediaTek processor clocked at 1.7 GHz. A modern necessity, the smartphone also has a 13 MP rear-facing camera with an f/2.0 aperture, an 8 MP front-facing camera, a 3,000 mAh battery, dual-SIM support, and 4G connectivity.

The phone is set to launch this month in Europe. The 2 GB RAM model with 16 GB storage is priced at around $300, while the 3 GB RAM version with 32 GB of storage is priced at around $365.

Meanwhile, "Don't be a Tuna Head!" (said by Doctor Fred in "Maniac Mansion" in the ending scene) and See Ya! (said by lots of characters in "Zak Mckracken").

A regular speaker on the tech conference circuit and a Senior Director at FTI Consulting, Sylvie Barak is an authority on the electronics space, social media in a b2b context, digital content creation and distribution. She has a passion for gadgets, electronics, and science fiction.

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