The Commodore 64 is an ancient 80s computer, famous for being among the first – if not the first – to offer genuine music making possibilities, thanks to its SID chip. This legendary piece of silicon yields a very characteristic, bright electronic sound that went on to become a signature element of chiptunes – generally upbeat electronic music composed around the SID chip’s distinct character.
The love for the chip is so big that the mighty Elektron (the Swedish company behind popular instruments like the Octatrack) actually got its start by creating and manufacturing the SidStation – an unique little machine that’s long out of production and has become a collector’s item, of sorts.
Hooking up and operating an original Commodore 64 is not impossible, but it is quite a stretch nowadays. Thankfully, you don’t have to resort to bringing a vintage computer back to life in order to enjoy C64 music software and the SID chip’s sound. There are convincing software emulations of the entire computer, complete with the audio chip, though nothing can beat experiencing the original. An English company by the name of Retro Games Limited has embarked on resurrecting the Commodore 64 as a miniature computer with modern functionality like HDMI output and USB ports.
While the SID chip is no longer in production, we imagine the company has managed to pull off a convincing emulation of it, in addition to taking care of the rest of the C64 experience. Mind you, we don’t know yet if the recreated computer is capable of running third-party software for the Commodore. The machine is mostly designed for playing retro game classics like Paradroid, Hawkeye, and Nebulus. However, it seems the developers have made it possible to run all those old-school trackers, as the device supports fully functional C64 BASIC. So chiptune fans will be in for a treat!
Unfortunately, the keyboard keys are only decorative, which means you’ll have to plug-in an external keyboard to work. On the upside, the C64 replica comes with an actual joystick, which will probably make playing all those retro games mighty good fun!
Price and availability
The C64 Mini will be available in early 2018, priced at around 80 EUR. Allegedly, the company is planning a full-sized version of the computer in the future. This will make for a bulkier, yet more authentic experience!