If, like me, you watch retro computing channels on youtube, you may be familiar with names like David Murray (“The 8Bit Guy”), Clint of “Lazy Game Reviews”, Dan Wood (“Kooky Tech”), Nostalgia Nerd, Peri Fractic, Techmoan, Terry Stewart (“Tezza”), Retro Man Cave, and many others. A few of them, led by the 8Bit Guy, are working together to design and build a new “old” computer for computer nerds and nostalgia buffs.
(Nota bene: This is not a promotion for a commercial product. The thing hasn’t even been built yet.)
The computer, named Commander X16 (a link to the facebook group), will be similar to (but not a clone of) the Commodore 64. They are writing a new kernal (their spelling), operating system, basic interpreter and other firmware so that there are no copyright concerns. They are building it with off-the-shelf and low cost but proven parts to keep the price down (e.g. the gameduino). Currently the group has 13,000 members.
The CPU will be the MOS 6502 or 65816, depending on how difficult it is to code the operating system for the 65816. But unlike the limited computers of the 1980s, this will be much more expandable and powerful. The base RAM will be at least 512KB, have 256 or 4096 colours, produce VGA output with an HDMI connector, use flash RAM storage, have stereo sound output, RS232 (potentially Ethernet and WiFi as well) among other improvements.
During a reunion tour with The Attractions, Elvis Costello was quoted as saying, “Remember the good old days? They’re gone.” Maybe they are, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy them. Chess is centuries old and there is little new to learn in the game, but nobody’s suggesting we stop playing.