Commodore 64 is back…kinda.

It looks like a 64. It feels like a 64. It even appears to be a 64. The real question though – is it a 64? Yes, no, and maybe…

The Commodore 64 Mini stormed around the world as Commodore enthusiasts purchased them for nostalgia, and possiblly for their collection. Who can blame them? It was such a cute little thing! But, it had problems. Complaints about joysticks, a keyboard that was too small to function, and other minor issues pushed the Mini down to where you can pick one up for about $30 or so in many places. But then they promised us something better…

Overnight the Mini grew into a “Maxi” a term that still has me seeing women’s maxi pad commercials each time I hear it, but it’s only a name. The new 64 Maxi, or as it is called “The 64” on the console promised a full-sized working keyboard, a 64 or Vic-20 mode, 64 games already installed, and the happy, flashing white dot on the blue screen that ensures you can spend hours writing your own programs. The 64 appeared to be back.

The 64 offers a few upgrades. The following is a brief advertisment list:

Featuring three switchable modes - C64, Vic 20, and games carousel.- Connect to any modern TV via HDMI for crisp 720p HD visuals, at 60 Hz or 50 Hz.- An updated joystick, now featuring micro switches, companions the hardware making the included games even more fun than ever.- The games carousel has 64 pre-installed games including classics such as California games, paradroid and boulder dash, with new additions like attack of the mutant camels, hover bovver, iridis Alpha, and gridrunner.- Topped off with the recently released shoot 'em up galencia and text adventure planet of death to let you relive the glory days of true keyboard gaming; - Plus, THEC64 allows you to load and save your own files and games via USB stick (including multi-disk titles) and program in C64 or Vic 20 basic.

Reading through the list above, you can see that it sounds like an updated 64. The major issue I have found so far with this unique return to yesteryear is that you can’t find it. Amazon and other online retailers show the machine, but most say “Out of stock” or “coming soon.” I found one site offering it from the U.K., but even they indicated it might be out of stock. Another report I found indicated the U.S. version would be out by November 2020. After that report, I saw nothing else about it.

Along with the classic look, the 64 offers a DVD option, USB ports and HDMI outputs to allow easy television hook ups. Again, it’s back, if you can find it.

So back to the original question – is it a 64?

Well – yes. In design the machine looks like an orignal Commodore 64. It has the appearance of one and reports indicate that even the keyboard feels like a 64. It has the classic blue screen and is prelaoded with 64 classic Commdore games. So in one regard it is a 64.

We should also note that on the other hand…it is not a 64. So the answer would also be no. This machine carries things not even dreamed of in the 1980s. It has a USB port, HDMI 720 output, and the optional DVD Rom, reader. It also has the ability to save programs, but unlike your original 5 1/4 floppy drive, you’ll be using a USB drive. No longer will you hear the hum and rattle of the drive, the flip of the lever as you close the disk into the drive, or the gentle reminder on the screen to either turn the disk over or install disk two. No, this is not your Commodore 64 from 1984.

Despite the yes and no answers to is it a 64, we still have one more answer…maybe. The Commodore 64, the world’s best selling computer and record holder for most units sold, is gone. As much as we might like to think that somewhere, out of the ashes, the Commodore Corporation will rise again and the 64 will reign supreme, the fact is the company has been sold off, split up, and pushed behind the walls of giant corporations with no intent of ever reviving the classic computers…and really they should not. The Commodore 64 of our youth has now been regulated to retro gamming groups, back room repairs, and online sales of used equipment. There will never be that “Awe” of the Commodore again. There’s simply too many new, faster, and more powerful machines around. So, while we can never have the same Commodore 64, maybe the Maxi is just close enough for a new generation to feel the keyboard, play the goofy little games, and watch the blue dot flash as they type “10 Print”. The fact that for most people it’s still not available in the U.S. also makes this answer a hard “Maybe” when it gets right down to it. Only time will tell.

Texarkana Man Plans to Bring Back Amiga Systems

Imagine a computer that responds to voice commands in any language, has no viruses and offers a stable operating system with no crashes.  It sounds like science fiction but according to one local businessman and visionary that system has already been here once before and will be again soon.

David Mallette is known locally as a professor, consultant, and Director of Operations for the Regional Music Heritage Center.  He also believes that one of the most stable computers of all time, with benefits untapped by modern computers, came to life in 1995.  That computer was the Amiga 4000.

In the mid-1990s arguably one of the most advanced computer systems was the Amiga from Commodore.  Commodore, a long-time maker of business machines, had conquered the computer world with the best-selling computer of all time, a record it still holds, in the Commodore 64.  Amiga became a brand of the Commodore line and was used to develop science fiction shows, movies, music, and videos.  It was a time when other systems fell far behind the Amiga.  Unfortunately, mismanagement and likely many other business-related complications forced Commodore to go into bankruptcy and close.  The rights were sold, argued over, and eventually disappeared from the business world.  Now, twenty-five years later, Mallette intends to bring the technology up-to-date and advance it beyond current systems with the Amiga21 Corporation.

Amiga21 has already had a GoFundMe page that topped a thousand dollars in less than a day.  David has been talking with technology experts in the area and around the country, and those understanding the work have stepped up with investments in the dream. 

I spent some time with David yesterday to view potential sites and discuss his plans.  Much of what is being planned cannot be openly discussed at this time, but it is safe to say David’s plans will include a corporate office in Texarkana, Texas, an offsite home in Arkansas, and a plant to build the Motorola 68000 series chips in Texarkana, AR.  He has selected sites for all and plans to ensure they are connected from a Christian point-of-view and a business point-of-view. 

David recognizes that some people are skeptical of his plans and vision to bring back a twenty-five-year-old operating system and modernize it.  We traveled and looked around several sites.  The area where he hopes to build his home, he has affectionately called it “Eden.”  Standing by a riverside and talking with David, you could see the sparkle in his eye when he talked about his fondness for the flowing river, his vision for a home, and his desire to bring Amiga21 to life in Texarkana.  He wants to provide jobs, computers, and a system that can be applied to education, business, and even gaming. 

While some are skeptical, David has decided to ignore them.  He has decided that the focus on his plans and vision are simply too time-consuming for him to worry about doubt.   Perhaps it should be remembered that a Holocaust survivor decided to start a business machine company that would produce the best-selling computer of all time while two other guys would build a small system in their garage and transform it into a billion-dollar corporation.  Those guys likely had skeptics too, but like David they ignored them.  They focused on their plans and their vision and they built it.  Watching David as he discussed Amiga21, I can clearly see a laser focus in his eyes, and I have no doubt he will build it. 

The Amiga21 Corporation is already online at An online testing video can be seen on YouTube.

(reprinted with permission from the Four States news

Writing About Commodore

Amiga 1200 – 1994

Twenty-six years ago in April of 1994 Commodore Computers, at least as it was known, went out of business. The company that had launched a competitively priced home computer and pushed the Commodore 64 to become the all-time best selling computer ended. What had been a battle between Microsoft, Apple, Commodore, and others lost perhaps its most loved competitor. Today, the Mac from Apple and various computers with the Microsoft operating system dominate the world. Sure you can take the Linux leap and have your own independent computer and there will always be alternatives, but nobody is building new Commodores. Yes, we can all turn to the 64 mini, or the new full-sized “The C64” or you may even find a Pentium based model floating around somewhere – but simply put, there are no new Commodores.

The Amiga 1200 and 4000 marked the end of the Commodore line. An attempt was made to produce a game systems, but it ultimately failed in the wake of the company going bankrupt.

Today, the Vic-20, Commodore 64, and several Amiga models have a large following. Facebook pages, websites, and Twitter accounts to post updates, news, and information. Questions and answers are asked, repair advice are given, and if a person did not know better and read the post, he or she would think Commodore is alive and well today. Today Commodore 64 systems can average anywhere from $90 to $200 or more on sites like E-bay. Collectors are gathering up systems so they will have parts well into the future.

Writing about Commodore is something I love, but have not been keeping up with as I should. For those reading this blog, I apologize. We had a couple of great contributors initially, and I wrote some articles. I also run an online news site ( and I operate a consulting business. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time. Since the pandemic hit, I have not taken time to play a single Commodore game or do anything with my small collection…I know, a terrible sin! Overall, though, I have had to ignore this site. So, I’m reaching out to the Commodore lovers.

If you love Commodore, have a story to share, news, a great find, a program you want to share – just about anything related to a Commodore- I want you to share it. Please send it to me. An article, some pictures, your name, and email is all I need to post. I will be happy to share your story with the world of Commodore Computer Lovers! Here are some ideas:

“I wrote a great Commodore Program”

“I am reviewing the old Commodore Game XYZ”

“The Day I received my first Commodore…”

“Look what I found on E-Bay”

Even articles like…. “I’ve decided to sell my Commodore collection because…”

So, if you have the time and desire, get cracking and send me what you want to publish. Until next time…keep those drives spinning.

Saving My Programs

Tape Drive
A Datasette just like the author owned….way back then.

I was having a blast by the time I saved up the money needed for a Commodore Datasette drive.  By this time I had one or two games to plug into the machine, but I had no way to save my precious programs.  I would type away at Basic and develop advanced programs that would tell me things like, “Hello” or it would figure an advanced math problem for me like “2+2 =” and there would be the answer “4”!  But I was seeing big programs in magazines and I wanted to be able to save them.  The Commodore books themselves offered a few programs as this was just before the publication of some independent programming books – many filled with pages and pages of code for me to type in and check.

The major issue I faced was what I called, “Program loss”.  The minute I would finish testing the program, complete school homework, take care of chores and get ready for bed, it was time to turn the Vic-20 off.  As I would click that magic button on the side of the 20 that opened the entire world of computers to me, the program would die.  It would be lost to the world, to me, and most importantly the hard work I had put into typing it would be gone until I typed it again.  I had to have a way to save the programs and cassettes – those wonderful music holding little tapes of dark strips was going to save the day for me!

My mother took me to a small outside mall in Little Rock.  This was in the days when big malls were still few and far and a lot of the shopping malls were outside- No not like yesterday, that’s just these places coming back as the big malls seem to be dying off in smaller towns in the USA – these malls often had bowling alleys, skating rinks, pharmacy stores, and maybe a Sears store attached.  You could usually find a barbershop, a clothing store or two, and even some specialty stores like Radio Shack and occasionally a small parts or hobby store.   This particular mall, known as University Mall, would later transform into one of those large indoor malls and eventually become apartments and a Target years later once a bulldozer would again destroy someone else’s childhood memories of the mall.  I actually think there may be a Cheddars located close to where the store was located that we went to that day.  But I digress…the point is it was the early 1980s and the open mall was there.  Inside that open mall was a store that sold almost exclusively Commodore items.

I honestly do not remember if the store was a “Commodore” store in the sense of selling only those items or not, but I do remember they had a lot of Commodore stuff.  As we walked in, I know my mouth must have fallen open.  There were game cartridges, blank tapes, Vic-20’s, monitors, tape drives and it seemed like rows and rows of programs already on tape.  There were also books – books that told you how to do things with your Vic-20!  Needless to say, I was in heaven.

I do not remember the cost, but I remember getting the Datasette drive – which apparently was a nice way to call a cassette something other than a cassette.  I put the money down, paid the cost and walked out the proud owner of my first computer storage device.

I had the benefit of already having cassette’s at home since I used them to record my records.  Once I was home, I pulled the Datasette out of the styrofoam holder, set the box aside and plugged it into the Vic-20.  I followed the directions and within a short amount of time, the fantastic program “Hello World” was finally written and saved.  After a few tests, I determined that all was well and I could now save may 20, 30 or even 40 lines of code when typed.  Needless to say, I had no idea that the lines of code I could and would type was about to expand.

At the end of the day I had two new things on my mind.  First, I now knew that I could save anything I typed or put together on the Vic.  I also knew that there were others out there that had put together programs and they would sell them to me at that wonderful little store.  In the years that would follow I would learn about biorhythm programs, calculator programs, writing programs (something that really caught my attention) and so much more.

That first little Datasette traveled with me through junior high,  high school and college.  I used it with the Vic-20 and the Commodore 64 that would go through college with me.  I had stacks of programs that I had written and ones I had bought.  It really wasn’t until sometime later that I learned there were other types of Datasettes for the Commodore machines, but ultimately I did not need them.  To this day, if you’re working on a Commodore machine, you know you can still go to your trusty outside mall – because that is a thing again in small-town USA and buy cassettes for your Datasette.  Whereas the floppy, both 10 inch, 5 1/4, and 3.5 have gone the way of the dinosaur, you can still round up a trusty cassette to pop into your Datasette.  It’s hard to believe that has been over 35 years ago now and the Datasette still lives on in memory and in many cases at work for those of us who love the Commodore Computers.


Clinton S. Thomas, Th.D. is a writer and the editor for the Four States News ( and the owner of a consulting company.  His first computers came from Commodore and inspired a lifelong love of computer interactions from games, to development and even to writing on them.


Commodore Arrives

William Shatner and the Vic 20

Commodore moved into the “Computer Wars” or the early days of the computer slowly at first, and when I received my first computer, it was the “friendly” Vic-20 that arrived.  William Shatner had advertised the new machine and apparently, my parents had seen the ads and decided the kids needed that computer.  It was under $300, so it was far below many of the other machines and it certainly beat the high prices of the Apple machines of the time.

To our collective joy, they decided that we each needed our own Vic-20.  So, on that Christmas morning, the presents were opened and besides the usual toys and other Christmas items, there were two large boxes.  Well, at least they were large to us.  All these years later the boxes seem small compared to computers that came later.  The box had fascinating words written on it like “The Friendly Computer,” Arcade Game Excitement” and “Does A Lot More”.  I glanced over the split picture on the cover that featured what appeared to be a father and his two sons playing a game.  The second picture showed the father running a checkbook ledger of some sort, apparently pleased with the results.  I quickly focussed on the game screen- realizing that it looked a lot like the popular arcade game, Space Invaders.  The back side of the box offered more words and just as importantly more pictures of games!

Needless to say, I was hooked.  My sister seemed to take the present with a grain of salt, but I had been watching William Shatner’s Star Trek since I was little.  Since William Shatner was advertising the computer, it made perfect sense to me that this machine should be able to do everything the Enterprise computer could do.  I imagined myself charting new star systems, scanning for life forms in local creeks, and writing programs to cure the world’s many problems.

I spent the next several days looking at the blue screen on the television, reading and trying to understand the Basic language and asking my parents for specific games.  Like many other early Vic-20 users, it did not take me long to figure out that the Commodore was limited.  I could type programs all day long, but the moment I turned off the machine, al the work was gone.  I may have had the computer type or say, “Hello Clint” but it quickly evaporated with loss of power.  I began to look over the friendly documentation and suddenly found a “Tape” drive was available.

With the knowledge that a tape drive was out there, waiting for my hard earned lawn mowing and allowance money, I began to plan.  I was back on track.  I would explore the universe yet and my Vic-20 only needed the tape drive to keep my programs ready and waiting for the moment Captain Kirk called on my growing computer skills to aide the Enterprise in some dangerous endeavor.  I decided I would be ready, but that’s a story for another time.  For the time being, the box was put away and the pretty white, keyboard computer known as the Vic-20 sat waiting on my desk and hooked to my small television where I knew I was destined to grow in the Commodore world!


Clinton S. Thomas, Th.D. is a writer and the editor for the Four States News ( and the owner of a consulting company.  His first computers came from Commodore and inspired a lifelong love of computer interactions from games, to development and even to writing on them.