December 16, 2005 12:47 PM PST

Is Commodore poised for a comeback?

It may be time for a Commodore comeback.

No, Lionel Richie isn't signing up with his old band. We're talking about Commodore, the venerable computer brand.

A Dutch consumer media company is hoping it can tap the power of the VIC 20, the PET and the Commodore 64 to launch a new wave of products, including a home media center device and a portable GPS (Global Positioning System) unit and media player.

Commodore

Yeahronimo Media Ventures, which has offices in Los Angeles and Baarn, the Netherlands, acquired the rights to the Commodore name late last year in a deal worth just over $32.7 million. Earlier this year, it took on Commodore as its own corporate moniker. The rebranded company already has some products available in Europe and on its Web site, but hopes to enter the U.S. market at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

In an interview, Commodore CEO Ben van Wijhe said the company bought the Commodore name with the idea of tapping its reputation for games and multimedia.

"It is not only the brand name but also the heritage of Commodore that interested us," he said.

The company has said it plans to launch three products at the show. The Commodore MediaBox is an all-in-one home entertainment box with an Internet connection, digital TV tuner and hard drive for playing music downloads, games or on-demand video. The Commodore Navigator is a Windows CE-based portable device with a 20GB hard drive for music and video storage as well as built-in GPS and a 3.6-inch touch screen.

Commodore is far from the first company to try to revive a once-popular tech brand. The Amiga, Commodore's onetime PC brand, has had its own decades-long history as fans tried to preserve both the computer's operating system and brand despite the lack of strong corporate backing.

Gateway had hopes of reinvigorating the Amiga PC when it bought the name and technology in 1997, but eventually scrapped its plans and sold the brand in 1999. Efforts to keep the computer's OS alive, however, have continued into the current decade.

Another '80s game name, Atari, bounced among several owners before making a comeback earlier this decade. Gamemaker Infogrames acquired Atari's name and game titles in 2001 and began using Atari as its own corporate name in May 2003. Meanwhile, Atari's classic games have also found new life in low-end TV consoles and cell phones.

Napster is perhaps one of the best-known recent transformations, with an authorized music subscription service taking on the brand built as the first of many rebel peer-to-peer file-sharing systems.

Van Wijhe said he has heard from a lot of Commodore and Amiga fans in the 12 months since his company announced plans to acquire the well-known name.

"People were looking at us very close to see what we were going to do with it," he said. "We got thousands of e-mails of people that wanted to work for us and with us."

Commodore itself, though, is quite small, currently employing about 50 people with annual sales of around 40 million euros ($48 million).

"We're growing fast, very fast," Van Wijhe said.

13 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie is spelled without a 't' (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.lionelrichie.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.lionelrichie.com/</a>). And a Lionel Richie reunion with The Commodores would be outstanding! Regarding the Commodore products -- good luck in an already super-competitive market. I'd guess the new products will have to look good, be cheaper than competitors, and be of a better quality before consumers start buying Commodore products over the competition.
Posted by lmshahft (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Break up, no make up
You dont know the story on their break up, you might want to research that, it makes Sammy Hagar's break up with Van Halen look like a spat.
Posted by Luke_Cage (33 comments )
Link Flag
Lionel Richie
Thanks Chad! Fixed...
Posted by LeslieKatz (143 comments )
Link Flag
Misleading statements by CEO aren't a good start
When he said: "Never before has a brand come out of hibernation and truly reinvented itself to position competitively in an ever-evolving digital media marketplace," van Wijhe said.

He's following the "Packard Bell" model of ressurecting a defunct brand name with a new line of products and declaring it a new thing.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Holding on to the past
Companies should focus more on innovation and coming up with new designs and products instead of trying to revive obsolete brands. Imagine if Apple tried rebranding "Lisa" instead of coming with "IPod".

MyNewbie.Net
Posted by gee672 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dear Lord
I'd finally obliterated the VIC 20 from my memory &#38; they go &#38; remind me.

But on the upside, anything that gets a mention of the worlds greatest computer - THE Commodore Pet, into print, can't be all bad.

It just goes to show that resurrecting an old brand name can be beneficial - I read the story, just because it had "Commodore" in the headline.
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
The C-64
I would be one of those to buy a C64 like device with built-in
games and OS with a few extras such as emails and web-surfing
capabilities. The only thing I would want is for them to make it look
a lot like the original C-64.
Posted by enrigonz (5 comments )
Link Flag
mame
Thank (fill the name of your favorite higher power here) for mame
I am still playing yie-ar kung fu,ghost n' goblins and xevious on my PC

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://otherthingsnow.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amiga rules!
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/web_conferencing.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/web_conferencing.htm</a>
Posted by 208774626618253979477959487856 (176 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Happy to see this.
I am happy to see someone doing something with the Commodore Computer all it realy needed was a Harddrive and would have been still in business. Now they have them. I have ran my Radio &#38; Tv Shop using a Commodore 64 &#38; 128. Best of luck with this action.

Best Regards,

Carl Sundman Anacortes, WA.

PS: Please reply.
Posted by CES007 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
AmigaOS on its way back!
I would like to point out that new Amiga hardware <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.troikang.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.troikang.com/</a> &#38; OS4 <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://os4.hyperion-entertainment.biz/,are" target="_newWindow">http://os4.hyperion-entertainment.biz/,are</a> about to be available again!
Posted by interested party (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Had a C64 once
Was a long time back, and was a great little system also was my first trial into basic programming.
Posted by (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I STILL have one in my closet (printer and all)
I am one of those VENERABLE "Commodore" owners that always thought it was too good an idea to go away!
That is why I still have my system in my closet.
Maybe my kids would use it.. or my grandkids? NAW.. my grandkids have a brand new "DELL" that cost me "LESS" then what I paid for my entire commodore system back in the 80's.. so if you have one in the closet? (like I do..)
Don't wait for it to make a comeback like I did..
do yourself a favor.. "THROW IT OUT," and make room for your grandkids "DELL.." which won't last half as long as the "commodore!"
Posted by paroland (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.