On the late few days, I have been following an eBay auction dealing with a nearly mint fully working Commodore 65 prototype. It also came with a rare memory expansion.
On the late few years, Commodore 65 prices have been on the 12000 – 20000 euros range roughly, but the auction that has ended a few minutes ago just reached a figure that I think it is definitely unheard of for Commodore computers. I only think the Apple I ended up with a similar value in the past.
81450 euros is the amount of money that eBay bidders have reached for this beautiful and rare machine. Although the Commodore 65 is an interesting machine – clearly rensembling the idea of an updated Commodore 64 most users have been dreaming of in the 8 bit era – I have to say that such an out-of-the-world price just makes little sense, if it happens to have any sense at all.
The Commodore 65 was supposed to be un upgraded Commodore 64 computer which had to be Commodore 64 compatible. New features include high resolution graphics (more or less the same as the Amiga computers), a built-in 3,5 inches disk drive and two SID chips for stereo sound. The new video chip was called the VIC-III.
Sadly, engineers didn’t manage to make it more than 70% compatible with the Commodore 64. Irving Gould named that computer as the son of Plus/4 and decided to can the project.
Still, a few Commodore 65 prototypes were built and they did come up right after Commodore went bankrupt in 1994.
Such a computer, partly Commodore 8 bit and partly Amiga, is the dream of any Commodore collector. Still, I would have never bet that such a figure would have been reached. I have been following the auction and at around 35 minutes to the end, the price was around 35.000 euros… at that point I realized that something unexpected was likely to happen. Still, I couldn’t believe my eyes at the end of the auction.
I think that this Commodore 65 will enjoy a very special place in the buyer’s collection. I just can’t imagine what the seller and the buyer may feel now. Of course, the seller should be more than happy, and I think he is feeling more than anxious as well… it’s like winning a lottery I suppose. You are happy and you just can’t wait getting the money (sadly, those are just speculations – I have never won anything).
Maybe the buyer feels that he has just bought a piece of history. Well, he definitely has. Although the Commodore 65 never reached the shelves, it is a remarkable part of Commodore engineering and as such, it is part of computer science history. But, I still cannot understand that figure. My friends, that’s 81000 euros… you can nearly buy a flat with that money. Of course I am not rich, maybe that’s why I can’t understand it.
My situation is completely different. I just can’t afford having a reasonably complete Commodore collection at the moment – even a basic one. For example, I used to have Commodore 116s and 1551 disk drives, but I just used them for a period of time, then I resold them to recover costs. But, even if I had to depart from them, I enjoyed very much using these machines. So, I have an “itinerant” Commodore collection in a sense. If I have costly Commodore machines (like C116s, C128 Ds etc.), I use them for some time, then I resell them. That’s the poor’s man way of using retrocomputers without spending too much money. I am not lucky with used stuff and I usually never find used Commodore items on street markets or retro stores, so I have to rely mostly on eBay. So, costs must be recovered. Instead, a friend of mine was actually able to get for little money a fully working Kim-1 computer! Well, luck is something you need for sure if you want to be a collector…
What this auction is telling me is clear: I will never own a Commodore 65. But after all, who cares? At least, I hope the auction’s winner will be able to proficiently use his Commodore 65 for many years to come.