Commodore’s back!

Long, long ago, I owned a computer that was so reliable that it only ever crashed on me and caused me to lose work once. I remember it well, and I was livid about it. So much so that I never used that word processor again. And the computer never crashed on me or caused me to lose work again.

That computer was a Commodore 128.It was slow, it didn’t multitask, and I could barely type on its awful keyboard, and it irritated me that MicroLeague Baseball took 15 minutes to load if I wanted to use its General Manager and its Stat Compiler add-ons (of course I did), but from a pure reliability standpoint, that simple machine was the best computer I’ve ever owned.

Of course, Commodore’s naysayers–there always were a lot of them and probably still are–would argue that a tricycle is more reliable than a Chevrolet Corvette. Which is true. But let’s get something else perfectly clear. A tricycle and a Corvette are both toys. And so are the majority of computers built today. It’s a matter of whether you want a $200 game system (a C64 plus disk drive) or a $2,000 game system (a Pentium 4).

And yes, I know there are a lot of things a Commodore won’t do that the new stuff does. I work with the new stuff every day. But sometimes I long for simpler times. I’d have that C128 set up, except it’s developed a problem in the last decade and doesn’t work reliably anymore. I know how to make an X1541 cable and I know where to get the software so I can use an obsolete PC as a Commodore hard drive. So there is a good use for a 386 with a 200-meg hard drive. But without the computer… And yes, I know I could use an emulator, but something about it just isn’t the same.

So, yes, I got excited when Tulip Computers, the Dutch computer company that bought the intellectual property of the old Commodore International back in 1997 and then sat on it for 7 years, announced this week that it’s going to release a C64-based mini-console this year. If you’re not familiar with these, imagine the internals of a classic game system shrunk down and crammed into a joystick with video outs to plug into your TV, with a couple dozen game titles built into ROM. At least one Atari 2600 mini-console exists, and there’s another one I see in shopping malls that seems to be based on the Nintendo NES.

Well, the C64 mini-console is going to have the Epyx Summer/Winter/California Games series among the 30 titles it has built in. It had better have Pitstop II also. Pitstop II gets my vote for the best C64 game ever.

Yeah, I’m gonna buy one.

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