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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

An actual working Commodore 65 prototype is being auctioned off for thousands of dollars

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If you’ve got $30,000 lying around, may I suggest heading over to eBay and bidding on an especially rare Commodore 65 prototype (spotted by HotHardware). This super hard-to-find computer is still somehow in working order, and bids are currently around $28,000 I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes higher than that. 

History lesson time! The Commodore 65 (C65 aka C64DX) was a prototype computer that was developed in the late ’80s-early ’90s by Commodore Electronics. It was intended to be the successor to the Commodore 64 (C64), but in 1991, the system was killed off due to company infighting and never saw a commercial release.

Interestingly enough, the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (aka the NES) and the Apple II computer took chunks of market share away from the Commodore 64, leading to the development of the C65. Its CPU was nearly triple the speed of the C64 at 3.54 MHz, it had 128KB RAM (expandable to up to 1MB), and its graphics chip could produce 256 colors supporting a maximum resolution of 1280 x 400. 

In 1994 when Commodore International was liquidated, anywhere from 50 to 2,000 C65 prototypes reportedly found their way onto the open market. The seller even posted a promo video of the C65 all hooked up running programs including the classic game, The Last Ninja 2. 

“This particular unit is even much rarer” than most existing units, the listing states. “The plastic molds are not roughened, so the case still has a high-glossy look, and the POWER and DRIVE text is missing. The plastic molded cases of these ALPHA Units are totally rare; only a hand full are known to exist. This C65 has a ‘#27’ written on the PCB.”

Had the C65 made it to market in the 90s, it was expected to sell for $300-$350, a tiny fraction of the current bid. But this C65 prototype is the holy grail for classic PC collectors because few of them are still around, and fewer are still in working condition.  Aside from a few scratches noted by the seller, this thing looks pretty good. 

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As the listing notes, this system runs off a 220V/230V European power supply, so any American or Canadian bidders will be an adapter. The Commodore 1084S monitor is also included with the system.

There are 50 bids right now, with the current one being €25,615, which converts to under $28,000. Bidding ends Sunday. Not a bad deal for a little piece of computer gaming history.


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