Everyone remembers the Commodore 64, with its eight-bit, 16-colour, SID sounds of yesteryear. Thanks to our nostalgia for California Games and Jumpman, the Commodore name is perpetually poised for a comeback. Barry S. Altman, CEO of Cybernet, believes he can finally make it happen. He’s seeking the rights to use the iconic trademark for its line of all-in-one keyboard units. But will this incarnation be worthy of the name?
No one can deny the Commodore brand cachet, and at over 30 million units sold, the C64 is the bestselling single computer model of all time. But that was nearly 30 years ago.
Every attempt to revive the brand has ended in disaster. Perhaps the trouble began in 1984, when founder Jack Tramiel left the company after 25 years. Or was it in 1994, when it was forced into liquidation and German PC manufacturer Escom bought up the remains for US$14 million? Maybe it was in the 10 years after, when the trademark was licensed to various third-party manufacturers and the name was slapped on everything from MP3 players to paper shredders.
Altman’s proposed reincarnation – the “Commodore Phoenix” – banks on the unit’s likeness to the C64, but considering the brand’s recent history, consumers will most likely declare a syntax error.