Commodore Bets on Nostalgia With a Smartphone

After going bankrupt in 1994, the former gamemaker became a ghostly version of its former self.


The company that helped usher in the personal computer era 30 years ago is back, and, surprise, it wants to sell you a smartphone.

In the mid-‘80s, Commodore was pumping out Amiga and Commodore 64 home computer models and C64 was the highest selling computer of all time. But, once other tech and gaming giants like Nintendo arrived, Commodore faded rapidly.

Since then, they’ve popped up in small ways. In 2004, the brand was slapped on a series of direct-to-TV gaming joysticks. Then, in 2011, they sold a pricey all-in-one retro PC keyboard in the style of the C64, with a whole host of added memory and gigabytes that made any sentimentalist’s heart flutter. But low sales forced the company to shut down in 2013. Then, that same year, a court ruled that the trademark belonged to a Dutch company called Commodore Holdings B.V., who haven’t been heard from since.

Now, two Italian investors named Massimo Canigiani and Carlo Scattolini snatched up the trademarks to the brand in nearly 40 countries, and are ready to enter the 21st century by never looking back. Well, kind of.

The new Commodore PET smartphone is named after the same computer that kicked off the tech company’s hardware back in 1977, but this gizmo is all new. It has a 1.7 GHz, 64-bit octa-core processor and a long-lasting 3000 mAh battery. It also has a 13-megapixel camera that can also shoot 1080p HD video. But nostalgics will love the dual emulators that allow users to play old Commodore 64 Amiga games. That is, ultimately, the differentiator.

The phone will initially be available only in European territories like France, Poland, and Germany this month for about $300 and the manufacturers hopes to expand worldwide soon. So Commodore, the little company that could, keeps being resurrected, but this time they hope our nostalgia and their smartphone will be the thing that keeps them in business.

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