back to article Commodore PET lurches out of its 1970s grave – as a phablet

The Commodore PET, a beloved micro-computer of the late 1970s, is coming back - as an Android phablet. A new website, Commodoresmart.com, has appeared to spruik the device which offers a 5.5 inch screen at 1920x1080, 8MP front and 13MP rear cameras, an eight-core CPU, 3GB of RAM, Android 5.0 and the chance to use two SIMs for …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    Can I play Bounty Bob Strikes Back?!?

    Will it give me the classic Blue Screen Of Life with it's lovely "Ready" prompt?

    Can I write a BASIC program to stuff random values into the POKE statements & turn the screen into a mind numbing spray of colours?

    Will I have to type LOAD "*",8,1 at the prompt to run the programs?

    Will I need a FastCart & a 56K modem to attach so I can connect to my favorite sections of Q'Link & CompuServe?

    *Grins*

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Can I play Bounty Bob Strikes Back?!?

      56k?! Back in my day a 2400 baud MODEM was rolling in the tall grass. Meanwhile I had to get on with a 300 baud MODEM, then latter a 1200 one. 56k came a bit latter with my second Windows PC ~ca 1996, IIRC... Thankfully I was able to go to ADSL sometime there shortly afterwards.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: Can I play Bounty Bob Strikes Back?!?

        You were lucky - we had to use semaphore...

    2. Michael Strorm

      Oric Atmos tablets now shipping

      @Shadow Systems; The great news is that it can do *anything* a generic Android tablet can, including running actual Pet emulation software (which unfortunately they didn't include with the C64 and Amiga emulators).

      Of course, this tablet has one big benefit over other Android devices, and that's a label saying "Commodore Pet" on the back. Which makes it a Real Commodore Pet, and not just the generic midrange Android tablet indistinguishable from countless others and with no relation to the original Pet it would be otherwise!

      P.S. If anyone wants a genuine (honest, guv) Oric Atmos tablet, send your generic Android one to me and I'll tippex "Oric Atmos" on the back for you. Black ones only, if it's a beige tablet I'll have to scribble "Oric 1" on with a marker instead.

  2. Haku

    You don't need an 8-core 3GB ram mobile to play Amiga games

    My 'old' and 'slow' Samsung Galaxy S2 happily runs that Uae3All2 which was demonstrated in the video, and it didn't cost me anything near $300.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: You don't need an 8-core 3GB ram mobile to play Amiga games

      Thank you for that link, keep forgetting to install that on the new tablet. [Always new tablets here, I break them even in armor!] And you're right, it doesn't take near that many resources although you'll probably be able to have a bit more going on that just the emulator. I still miss mi Amigas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You don't need an 8-core 3GB ram mobile to play Amiga games

      Does this include even emulating a full-fat Amiga 4000/060 spec without skipping frames?

  3. eJ2095

    REtro

    Off Topic i know

    Been busy with an Amiga 1200 for fun, cf card of 4gb 68030 card (Only 1 i had that works lieing about)

    going to get a pcmcia ethernet adaptor for it and as i have the space use it for a bit

  4. James 51

    It has the emulator but what about the games? This might explain why all the amiga games disappeared from the blackberry app market. Having bought a few the on screen controls could be a little fiddly when compared to the joystick or keyboard the games were designed to work with. GOG has some amiga games on it now.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Credits to milos they're all going to be microtransactions. As for being able to import stuff unofficially, maybe, but I wouldn't be too surprised if it blocks this with signature checking.

  5. NightFox

    PET 2001

    So despite being called PET, this is actually a C64 and Amiga emulator? Shame - I was really hoping to get some quality Android Nim and AFO time in.

    Now correct me if I'm wrong here (and I'm sure someone will), but as I remember it *all* PETs were white-screen with the built-in tape deck - the later models with green screen and a proper keyboard (which meant the tape deck was separate) were actually called CBM 3032 (the last two digits being the memory size) - I think the PET name was only officially used for the PET 2001?

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: PET 2001

      First computer I ever used was the PET in my middle school science lab. It's a long time ago, and age may have dulled the memory a bit, but it definitely had a green screen and cassette deck, and I'm sure it bore the name "PET"

    2. Adrian Jones

      Re: PET 2001

      First PET I used had the cassette deck and calculator keyboard and a 40 character wide green screen.

      Later, our school had machines with real keyboards, external cassettes and one even had an 80 character wide screen. There was a floppy disk drive for the borough which we got to play with for a little while. Very slightly faster to load programs than the cassette. :)

      AFAIR, they were all called PETs.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: PET 2001

        And then there was the SuperPET.

    3. Badvok

      Re: PET 2001

      My memory fails me too on the screen colour, but according to wikipedia, it was blue phosphor on the first model.

      Being top in my maths class granted me the privilege of using my school's only computer and it was a PET 2001. I then moved to a college to do my A levels and did Computer Science on NETWORKED CBM 8032s which had access to a shared dual-floppy drive!

      We were spoilt in them days.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not *another* cheap nostalgia-exploiting "revival"

      "So despite being called PET, this is actually a C64 and Amiga emulator?"

      Which you can probably get for any Android device anyway. So, yeah. It's just more "computer/company X you knew when growing up has returned!" one-eye-on-the-press-release slapping of a nostalgic name on some mediocre tablet/whatever.

      Is anyone out there *not* bored with these endless crap attempts to exploit nostalgia by (a) someone acquiring a license to the whored-out name of a defunct company and/or computer, (b) slapping them on a completely unrelated piece of mediocre hardware then (c) sending out a press release claiming "It's back!"

      At least the "new" Spectrum was making an effort at appearing- and working somewhat like- the same machine (even if it was still just an emulator underneath).

      More typically, such machines merely come with bundled emulator software in a spurious attempt to pretend the new machine is a rebirth. At worst, you get cases like the last bunch of guys to license the Commodore trademark about five years back who- along with their better-known "relaunch" of the (PC in a) Commodore 64(-like case), sold a "Vic" that was an all-in-one PC that didn't even *look* like its namesake and- worse still- used the name of classic Amigas (like the A1000) to sell generic HTPC cases.

      Commodore seems to be the worst for this sort of thing, probably because of the massive popularity of the C64 and- in Europe- the Amiga, and the rights associated with them appear to be confusingly scattered, with separate licensing for the brands (inc. Commodore *and* Amiga), for the rights to produce Amiga-compatible hardware (#), for the Amiga OS, sublicensing, etc. etc.

      Anyone remember the short-lived "new" Acorn Computers, a short-lived attempt by a generic PC maker to exploit the defunct brand?

      Which brings me on to another thing- despite their endless popularity, few of the more cynical crap fake "revivals" seem to meet with any long-term success. Maybe they're only ever intended to sell on the back of the short-term press hype and achieve that aim. Or maybe it's that nostalgic computer fans aren't as gullible as marketers seem to believe- but that doesn't seem to stop them trying.

      (#) That is, hardware that runs the latest version of AmigaOS, and isn't actually binary-compatible with the original Amiga. In truth, the "new" Amiga computer hardware is a contrived excuse to sell overpriced hardware to the small, rabid bunch of users still using AmigaOS- which was great in its day, but lost any raison d'etre after its rivals caught up with- and then passed it- during the 90s and it wasn't upgraded for ten years.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Not *another* cheap nostalgia-exploiting "revival"

        I find it amusing to see the defunct brand names companies will fork over money for. For those in the NYC/Tri-state area, there was an electronics chain called "Crazy Eddie". Eventually the company was forced into bankruptcy (but not after Eddie and family spent the entire lifetime of the company skimming profits and cooking the books), with Eddie Antar being extradited from Israel and sent to federal prison for a few years. So tell me, why would ANYONE in their right mind want to buy the rights to THAT name? I mean, you could hire their hyperactive pitchman Jerry Carroll without having to own the extremely tarnished Crazy Eddie name (presuming Carroll is still alive, that is).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Not *another* cheap nostalgia-exploiting "revival"

          Because I believe its slogan is trademarked ("His prices are INSANE!"), plus there's the whole image of a crazy electronics dealer and the fact the name "Crazy Eddie" rolls off the tongue so easily. I lived in Nassau County during Crazy Eddie's height, and there was a store near Roosevelt Field that I visited a few times as a kid. I believe the name's being held by an online retailer, and seeing as it's been nearly 30 years since the fall of the Antars, some feel the image can be safely re-introduced. Problem is, a store like Crazy Eddie can't compete anymore in the world of big-boxers like Best Buy. Its biggest rival, Circuit City, bit the dust shortly before the turn. Even the vaunted Radio Shock has closed up shop.

    5. Dom 3

      Re: PET 2001

      It says "CBM Model 3032" directly underneath the screen, with "commodore" to the left and "computer" to the right.

  6. Paul Shirley

    designed for games

    The Amiga hardware was in reality designed to be a games super console and some arcade machines shipped based on it. I remember eagerly waiting to get hold of one when first announced. Then Commodore bought the company and (I believe) Jack Tramiel decided to repackage it as a PC, aimed at business use. Because it was now a business device the idiots removed the 'fast ram' that make the design so fast at graphics and seriously harmed it's future as a gaming machine :(

    It never really recovered from that downgrade, you could add the missing ram back but it made an already expensive machine too expensive for many before IBM killed the business niche for everyone else.

    Might have to dig mine out and fire up some old games.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: designed for games

        "WTF?? Every Amiga I ever used had fast ram as well as chip ram."

        So you never used the best selling A500 512K version, all of it ChipRam?

        The one game devs had to build against because it was A: more popular, B: so much slower due to RAM contention. And it's wonderfull (NOT!) RAM expansion slot that combined the bus contention of ChipRam with the inaccessibility to the chipset of FastRam! The Amiga where we used the CPU for some graphics tasks because otherwise the clock cycles would just be lost.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: designed for games

      Nah, not really. The Fast RAM was too expensive at the time that the A1000 came out, and it'd have seriously limited sales.

      What killed the Amiga was that it was an amazing Multimedia machine (never forget how the Video Toaster kept being used by TV Studios worldwide YEARS after Commodore's demise!) but Commodore rested on its laurels and never seriously upgraded the architecture. Just think of the fact that the Paula chip (audio) was NEVER upgraded during its lifetime!

      The A1000 could beat the PeeCees blindfolded back when it came out.

      The original Hi-Toro Team (the one with Jay Miner leading it!) was working on a proper successor to it which was then canned in favour of the cheap-to-produce-which-means-more-profit German A2000 design. By the beginning of 90s, the PC was getting VGA graphics and the AGA was too little too late.

      Bad management killed the Amiga, nothing else.

  7. JohnnyGStrings

    Xperia Play II...

    This is just half-arsed branding really. Anyone can stick some emulators and ROMs on any android device. For emulating games on a phone with PROPER controls, the gold standard is still the aging Xperia Play.

    I have one I'm using as my main phone, but it's seriously showing its age. Overclocked to 1.9 Ghz (from stock of 1Ghz), plus a linux swap partition on the class 10 MicroSD to stop the OS unloading everything when you open a few tabs in a browser.

    The fist company that makes a current spec (Galaxy S4/S5 level) device with built-in slide-out joypad and shoulder buttons like the amazingly ergonomic Xperia Play will make a killing from the niche market.

    Pleeeeeease make one somebody! If they even did it as a kickstarter it would so get funded.

    P.S. I've tried various bluetooth controllers from Xbox360 sized, down to chunky keyfob sized... it just doesn't work like the integrated Xperia Play controller does. The problem with the keyfob one was also that then it's tricky to balance your phone (since you're holding the little controller, not the phone).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Xperia Play II...

      Have you tried those gamepads that include spring-loaded cradles to hold your phone in place? With something like that, phone and controller can be handled like one piece.

  8. hatti

    Optional Extras

    Will there be an optional extra cassette tape podule for you to load software with and a 5 and 1 quarter inch floppoidal drive to complete the retro experience?

  9. Boudicca

    Picking the Bones

    Its funny, Commodore "was" king, but ever since, various rebranders have tried to milk the former fan base cow with trinkets and baubles. I assume no fan falls for this as the brand gets resold or more likely cloned every few years. Its just sad as the nostalgia is for the classic/retro, is hardware and original media with the odd exception of emulated hardware in fpga or new designs for ppc. I wish they would just leave the bones alone and stop trying to rob the grave.

    VIC/64/16/+4/128/500/4000/BlizzardPPC1200 and still proud to own them.

  10. jake Silver badge

    I'm pretty certain VICE has been around for over two decades ...

    ... I could be wrong. But I doubt it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I'm pretty certain VICE has been around for over two decades ...

        "It seems like two decades since you posted anything on these forums"

        How many minutes is a "decade" in your short attention span world?

        "- I was beginning to think that you worked for "Hacking Team", and had gone into hiding or something..."

        Nah. I don't work with teenagers. No point, and no profit.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just a shameless cash-grab. Both emulators are already on the Play Store for free and the phone isn't anything else than just an unbranded Chinese smartphone with a C= logo slapped on the back to rip off some nostalgic punters.

    This use of the good ol' Commodore brand is as shameful as the one C=USA did for those horrible PCs repackaged in classic C64 cases!

  12. Zmodem

    needs robocop 3, that was pure 3d, with smoke and lasers and stering wheels and better then wolfenstien

    its was better then an arcade

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_YroxTydVv2U/TDIB02twZGI/AAAAAAAABEk/OD49J2igFJs/s320/robocop_3_06%5B1%5D.png

  13. David Paul Morgan
    Go

    looking at the specs...

    ... it seems half decent. Dual-micro-sim which is a plus for me.

    form-factor and design seem quite respectable.

    microSD expansion.

    What's not to like? Even if they are relying on a 'brand revival'.

  14. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    If Jack Tramiel..

    ..hadn't been a megalomaniac that treated his staff like dirt and alienated everyone he encountered, we'd all be using "Commodore Standard" PCs and not "IBM Standard"

    I truly believe that. For quite a while Commodore was well ahead of anything else available and vertical integration with MOS Technology made their prices untouchable... for a while.

    I have a nice Asus tablet I like a lot, but would consider buying a "Commodore PET" branded tablet just for the branding. (unlike Apple products that I really have no interest in)

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