Friday, April 8, 2011

Back to the future for home computers?

Reports published this week indicate that Commodore are re-releasing one of the most popular home computers of all time - the C64.

Well it's not actually the old C64 that so many people loved so much back in the 1980s. No, it's a Windows-based system that comes in a C64-like case, so the similarities are pretty much just cosmetic.

However, if you're hell-bent on playing those games of old that used to hold your attention for hours on the original C64 you'll be pleased to know that it does come with an emulator that should support most of those old titles (if you can find them in any kind of readable format).

I'm predicting that this may be the start of a "retro trend" in computing hardware and we'll see a few more "flashback" designs released over the coming 12 months.

After all, who wouldn't want their very own Commodore PET -- but this time with a quad-core processor, a few gigs of RAM and a terabyte of hard-drive instead of that frustratingly unreliable built-in cassette system?

And who knows -- maybe a faux ZX81 will be the next big thing after the iPad -- stranger things have happened.

While on the subject of retro, I see that at least two companies are now selling mobile phones that look just like the old beige Motorola Bricks of the 1980s -- albeit with all the modern features you'd expect in a contemporary model.

Old is the new black apparently!

Of course, given the huge advances in ergonomics and miniaturisation, this retro phase is likely to be little more than a passing fad. Why clutter your desk with a huge "all in one" facsimile of a Commodore PET when you can get several times the power from a modern netbook which is a fraction the size and weight?

Still, for those who feel the need, the range of retro-tech devices will likely continue to expand in coming months, as manufacturers seek to cash in on the trend.

What a shame my favourite style (art deco) is from an era before the invention of the computer.

Steam-punk PC anyone?

Maybe Weta Workshops could do a roaring trade in designing the physical appearance of the next Apple computer?

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