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You can now order a PC case that looks like the classic Commodore 64

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Enjoy retro computing? It seems one company does, as My Retro Computer have revived the classic Commodore 64 as a barebones PC case.

Inspired by the Commodore 64x replica PC released in 2011, which met an untimely end when the Commodore USA founder Barry Altman died back in 2012. Not to be confused with the original Commodore, as this was a newer company that acquired the name. Commodore USA had a pretty murky history too following multiple controversies, which My Retro Computer are hoping to improve upon and they're not using the Commodore name.

Here we are again though, as someone else is now taking the reigns to keep the spirit of it all alive with Sean Donohue, Director of My Retro Computer Ltd. They've announced today they're going to be shipping two classic styled mini-PC cases inspired by retro systems like the Commodore 64 and the Commodore VIC-20.

Retro is the new modern, according to My Retro Computer. Designed to fit Mini-ITX hardware inside, What do you actually get with each apart from a very cool retro case? They say each has:

  • Unique low noise USB Mechanical Cherry Switch keyboard.
  • Multi-format SD card reader.
  • DVD/hard drive cradle.
  • Chassis 40mm cooling fan.

So it needs you to source your own Mini-ITX motherboard and everything else. Even so, if you love building systems it looks like a nice set of retro casing. This means you can run whatever you want with it and whatever operating system.

You can also see a video of them putting one together with a parts list on YouTube. They used Windows at the end but you get the idea clearly at least.

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It seems they plan to expand to cover more retro computing inspired cases, plus they also plan to support mini-computing devices like the Raspberry Pi & OROID. To do that, they will be offering an adaptor plate and panel mount cables which they hope to have before the end of the year.

You can find out more and buy one on their web store.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Quoting: Valck
Quoting: Dunc
Quoting: EikeNothing compared to the "chewing gum" keyboard of the Sinclair (ZX 81 or Spectrum, not sure anymore)...!
The original Spectrum had the “dead flesh” board. Later versions had an improved one with plastic keycaps. I believe Sir Clive actually held patents on rubber-sprung keyboards, and gathered massive licencing fees from the likes of Dell in the '90s. His own company's efforts, being early, were pretty awful though.

The ZX81... oh, dear. It was a keycap-less membrane, marketed as “touch sensitive”. I guess if you “touched” it with a hammer...
Believe it or not, I actually liked both of these–the membrane for its literal flexibility, see post above, and the chiclet for its ergonomic improvement upon the membrane :D

What made them bearable was the way Sinclair implemented their BASIC interpreter to accept single key strokes as keyword tokens, thereby reducing the need for typing every letter in a command, and at the same time reducing the memory requirements for program code too.

Of course people hate that too when they are unfamiliar with how that works, but if you grew up with no preconditioning, it was an awesome system–besides, you had all the BASIC commands printed right there in front of you, so you never had to look up anything in the manuals.

And don't get me started about MANUALS!
They were really well-written, comprehensive, educational text books, not some shoddy three "page" PDF you get these days, IF you are lucky...
Yeah, the manual that came with my (well, my dad's) TRS-80 model I had a solid overview of basic BASIC programming. In an approachable style, with a little cartoon of the computer making chatty comments. Also, when you turned the thing on it was instantly on, like turning on a . . . uh . . . what turns on instantly these days? A light, I guess.
Valck 24 Oct
Quoting: Purple Library GuyAlso, when you turned the thing on it was instantly on, like turning on a . . . uh . . . what turns on instantly these days? A light, I guess.
Unless you have to first boot up your PC to access the home automation software that controls the lights... or some neighbour accidentally DDoSes your wireless light bulbs?

:D



...or it is one of those CFLs that must have been made back when humankind first migrated out of Africa; oh how quickly memory fades.


Last edited by Valck on 24 October 2020 at 7:32 am UTC
wvstolzing 24 Oct
Quoting: ValckThey were really well-written, comprehensive, educational text books, not some shoddy three "page" PDF you get these days, IF you are lucky...

Not to mention the available schematics & repair manuals.

For the young ones among us, the scanned manuals on this website should give an idea: https://commodore.bombjack.org/

(It's not only Commodore; but sadly there's nothing from Sinclair; & the Apple collection is a little thin.)
Valck 24 Oct
Quoting: wvstolzingsadly there's nothing from Sinclair
You can find those at https://worldofspectrum.org/pub/sinclair/technical-docs/ –or could; as of right now, there's just a loading screen, I hope they'll be back soon. I didn't check to see whether archive.org has them, too.
Dunc 24 Oct
Quoting: ValckHeh, I grew up with a ZX81 which didn't even have keys at all :D
But that allowed me to convert it into The World's First Portable Computer™, fit snugly inside my breakfast box with the key membrane on the outside, reducing the case size to half. It was easily powered by a 9V block battery, at least for a few minutes. Of course entirely pointless without a battery powered TV set, which back then were more expensive than gold, and just as rare :)
Heh! :) I have a very vivid memory of unplugging mine and walking around the room with it, thinking that in The Future, we'd actually be able to do that and use the machine at the same time. (One thing about the ZX81, it was light.) I'm now back in my parents' house, looking after my mum, and it's a strange experience to sit in that same room with my phone, realising that I was right.

Quoting: ValckBelieve it or not, I actually liked both of these–the membrane for its literal flexibility, see post above, and the chiclet for its ergonomic improvement upon the membrane :D

What made them bearable was the way Sinclair implemented their BASIC interpreter to accept single key strokes as keyword tokens, thereby reducing the need for typing every letter in a command, and at the same time reducing the memory requirements for program code too.
Oh, that's true. I never really got along with the ZX81 keyboard (my first Christmas present after I got one for my birthday was a Memotech replacement*), and I never had a rubber-key Spectrum, but yes, there's no doubt the single-key entry system made them easier to live with.

QuoteAnd don't get me started about MANUALS!
They were really well-written, comprehensive, educational text books, not some shoddy three "page" PDF you get these days, IF you are lucky...
I had a Spectrum +, and later a 128, which didn't come with those great manuals, and I still have the pages I photocopied out of a friend's with the memory map, system variables, character set, and so on. And if I had a kid who wanted to learn about computers, I'd still put him in front of a Spectrum emulator with Steven Vickers's manual.

*A really nice piece of kit, actually. All-metal construction, and I don't know what switches it used, but they were way better than they probably needed to be given the speed of the machine: you could easily outpace it, even though the interface module had a small buffer. The Cherry switches on my current board don't feel unfamiliar. In fact, if it wasn't for the lack of a proper spacebar, I might be looking into hacking a USB connection on to the thing.


Last edited by Dunc on 24 October 2020 at 6:38 pm UTC
Dunc 25 Oct
Quoting: Valck
Quoting: wvstolzingsadly there's nothing from Sinclair
You can find those at https://worldofspectrum.org/pub/sinclair/technical-docs/ –or could; as of right now, there's just a loading screen, I hope they'll be back soon. I didn't check to see whether archive.org has them, too.
There's been a bit of... controversy over at WOS recently. “Classic” World of Spectrum at worldofspectrum.net has the original archive.

(My Internet Claim to Fame is that, many years ago, I was responsible for indexing half of WOS's ZX81 collection. I think I went backwards from Z to M, but it's been a while. Maybe that was the other guy. I thought it'd be fun, but it ended up one of the most tedious things I've ever done. One thing I did get out of it, WOS being hosted in the Netherlands, is learning some Dutch. “Druk op en toet” is “Press a key”. My spelling may be a bit rusty...)


Last edited by Dunc on 25 October 2020 at 12:46 am UTC
Valck 25 Oct
Quoting: Dunc
Quoting: Valckas of right now, there's just a loading screen
“Classic” World of Spectrum at worldofspectrum.net has the original archive.
Oh, that is both sad and good to hear at the same time. I'm only a sporadic visitor to WoS, mostly for the nostalgia, and it would have been sad to see it go.

However, now that I've taken a bit of a look around the "new" site, I am thrilled to see that at least somebody seems to have a bit of a sense for what is helpful in web site design, and what is not. I'm now in the process of updating my bookmarks... thank you very much for the updated link, and a big shoutout to the new maintainers of the old traditional layout!
slaapliedje 28 Oct
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Quoting: Valck
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: ValckRegarding desktop cases, it may be a bit of a stretch... but I use a 4U 19" server case as my "desktop", with another 2U fuse-and-switch panel below; gives a nice bit of height to the monitor. Probably not going to win any design awards, but it is functional and definitely not cramped inside the case :)

I don't get why people would want to use the 64's keyboard layout, as well as its form factor which doesn't allow to rest your wrists properly? Unless they intend to use the x86 as an emulator and want it to look the part too.
Yeah, for me if I'm going to emulate, I'm going to want the original keyboard layout and such. Try to make it as accurate as possible. But then the c64 is one of those that I didn't grow up with and wondered why they only have two arrow keys with modifiers to go the opposite direction... it's terrible. I grew up with the Atari 8bit, which had proper arrow keys :P
Heh, I grew up with a ZX81 which didn't even have keys at all :D
But that allowed me to convert it into The World's First Portable Computer™, fit snugly inside my breakfast box with the key membrane on the outside, reducing the case size to half. It was easily powered by a 9V block battery, at least for a few minutes. Of course entirely pointless without a battery powered TV set, which back then were more expensive than gold, and just as rare :)
I wish I had taken pictures, but again, we had to use real photographic film, and everything around that was expensive, too, at least for a twelve-year-old. And of course I wish I had kept it, instead of trading it with a friend for some other junk...

Ah, those were the times, when we had to walk to school uphill, both ways, in the snow. Every day of the week.
Ha, it would be fun to get an old portable TV and make a battery pack for an old 8bit and play around.

Complete side note, yesterday I finally got around to playing around with an Atari 800XL + the new FujiNet device. Turn on the computer, input the Wifi info, and you can download disk / cart images directly off the internet and run them on the system! Someone even wrote a COVID graph program from it that gather live data.
jasondaigo 30 Oct
for me it seems like at least 80 € to much; what are they thinking they offer?
Valck 30 Oct
Quoting: jasondaigofor me it seems like at least 80 € to much; what are they thinking they offer?
A custom designed mechanical keyboard in an oversized enclosure, also custom made. I think the price itself is reasonable, if on the high end.
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