Hackaday Retro Edition: A New Commodore 64 Case

Some time in the 80s, the plastic injection molds for the Commodore 64C, the Commodore 128, and the Plus/4 were shipped from somewhere in Asia to the great Commodore Mother Brain in West Chester, Pennsylvania. These molds had already produced a million or two cases, but there were some issues with production – too much waste, or something like that. A mechanical engineer took a look at the molds, sent out some recommendations, and moved the 2500 pound molds to a corner of the building.

For some time after a gray day in April, 1994 these molds sat in a West Chester, Pennsylvania warehouse until they were sold off. They made their way to a plastics manufacturer around Dallas, Texas where they sat for twenty years. All things must pass, sometimes several times, and this plastics manufacturer closed down, contacted an auctioneer, and began to sell off some of their equipment.

The hero of our story, [Dallas Moore], owns a small business, buying and selling everything from Barbie dolls to antiques. He found an ad for an auction at a plastics manufacturing plant in the newspaper, and figuring he could find something interesting, headed out to the auction preview.

The auctioneer at this liquidation sale asked [Dallas] what he did, and mentioned there was something pretty cool tucked away in a warehouse full of hardened steel molds. Something about molds for old computers. These were the molds for the Commodore 64C, Commodore 128, and the Commodore Plus/4. A literal crucible of computing history, stacked on a pallet and up for sale.

The auctioneer said one of his friends was interested in the molds, and thought they would make a neat coffee table. Something about this struck [Dallas] the wrong way and for the entire drive home he thought about someone taking history and turning it in to a piece of furniture. He decided to buy these molds and lugged the three 2500 pound pieces of hardened steel to his shop. Not wanting to let a good piece of history go to waste, he contacted another plastics manufacturer, planned a run of a thousand or so Commodore 64C cases in red, white, and blue. [Dallas] is funding the whole production run through Kickstarter.

To me, this is one of the greatest retrocomputing successes in recent memory. There will always be someone putting SD cards in old computers, getting them on the Internet (and especially pointed towards our retro edition), and cloning complete systems in FPGAs. This, though, is a clear example of someone recognizing the historical importance of several thousand pounds of steel, realizing there’s a market out there, and doing the leg work to remanufacture these pieces of history.

I put in my $45 for a red one, and I tipped off [Bil Herd], designer of the C128 and Plus/4, to this Kickstarter. He’s been talking with [Dallas], there I’m sure he’ll chime in on the comments with some retellings of Commodore battle stories.

If it arrives in time, I’ll be bringing my limited-edition red 64C case to the Vintage Computer Festival in Wall, NJ April 17-19. That’s a plug for the event. If you’re in the area, you should come.

EDIT: [Dallas] has a different story of where the molds came from.

73 thoughts on “Hackaday Retro Edition: A New Commodore 64 Case

    1. I’m thinking he should take any extra money from this KS and do another KS to produce the retro-guts to go in the case. Call it the dallasmoore64 complete with backwards D logo to match/play off of the original, since his name is similar sounding to Commodore. Just give me a free one for the idea.

        1. A Raspberry Pi and a Kyrah v2 would fit the bill, that’s what I’m doing with mine. Only thing that I’m trying to figure out is where to get a C64 keyboard for the whole thing…

      1. even if you leave it, the keyboard is hiding big parts and the inner shields are also not very nice, especially the one for the expansion board. Trust me, I have one C64 Board right next to me ;)

        But in the end its a personal decision of course.

      2. Line your computing room with stucco mesh. Your cellphone will hate you for it, but you will never see the FCC, and you can have the clear case which I also want although in a light smoke just so we don’t clash at the Commodore prom ;)

  1. If I could get a keyboard or key caps that fit a currently available keyboard switches the I would go for this in a moment. Then all I need is to run an emulator on a Raspberry PI. But what do you do with a case like this and no keys?

    I had a Commodore VIC 20. How is that different to a Commodore 64?

  2. Hmm… the supposed samples on the Kickstarter look fairly dirty and are not “Bright White”

    I had to look several times to make sure it actually said it was a sample. Looks like a cleaned up original off-white case to me.

  3. I have a little bit of a different story but still interesting. The way I was told it is as follows!

    In 1980 when Bud Frye, who was working for Commodore Computers, and his brother David, who was working at Eastman Chemical, saw that there might be a market for injection molded keyboards. Bud left Commodore and started Frye International. Bud got a call from someone he worked with at Commodore who wanted his help. They had the molds at a injection molding company in California and the company could not get the molds to make the number of housings they were rated for and the guy at Commodore wanted a second opinion. Bud called his brother and he got on a plane that night and went to see if the problem was with the mold or the company, after determining it was the company, Commodore sent to molds to Longview Texas. The molds where used for a year, until they were replaced by the plus/4 and than the 128.

    That is the story I was told by Mr. Frye

    Thank you for helping to get the word out on my project!
    Dallas Moore

      1. I’m not sure I understand your one word answer, I’m quite familiar with Retr0Brite, and when I purchased my C64 back in ’85, it was beige, not white.

        So again I ask, why not make it in the original color?

  4. I’d like to support this effort. I have 8 Commodore 64 (breadbox model) gathering dust in my garage. Prove you got one of these new cases and I ‘ll give you one C64 free. You pay the shipping or come get it in San Diego. first come first serve.

    1. I backed the project, White and Original Beige. Would love to pick up a C=64 if your still game. Mr Plucky at That google mail thing, and I’ll provide all the proof you want. :):

    2. I’m a backer and would like a late model breadbin (I’ve been looking for the C64 PCB Assy# 250466).

      Until my blue case arrives sometime in April the only proof I (or anyone else) can provide are screenshots of the KickStarter website or credit card/bank statements.

      If this is enough for you, please let me know: cnet(dot)sd7(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I don’t get it. What are you supposed to do with one of these things if you buy it. Is this a working keyboard for a desktop? Is this just for people who for some reason still have a Commodore and want to put a new housing on their keyboard?

    1. Own a piece of retro-computing history? Get a shiny new case for your C64? It’s certainly not a “working keyboard”, it’s just the plastic enclosures from the original C64 molds in colors that they were never originally released with.

      And just one point of clarification, this isn’t just the keyboard, the entire machine fits in that enclosure :)

    1. I rather have a C64 compatible board (something like the Commodore One or the DTV). I actually sold my collection of custom chips (because I used to repair the things) – many of the sids I sent off to the guy who made the sidstation for a lot of money as they were in short supply (and I sadly at the time didn’t see any need for them anymore and I needed the cash). I don’t see that motherboard being all that useful unless you have a working C64 to harvest – as the SID and the 6510 might be hard to buy seperately.

  6. I see he is offering the transparent case and beige case now, but he’s forcing everyone to buy one of the red, white, or blue cases first before they can add on a transparent or beige. That kind of sucks because I’m interested in a beige and transparent case and I’m not gonna buy a colour I don’t want just to get one I do want.

  7. This idea is ingenious. Wen Apple launched iMac, they went color crazy – and people loved it – to the point, where they were buying them up by the truckload. With colored cases, I could see allot of people refurbishing there own units – a hit of color on there desk, with that “big black box.” Also, lots of cases, means allot of opportunity for people to hack together there own C-64-ITXs (which many have done). Before I die, I’d like to create two C-64-ITXs, and use emulation run every emulator, game and OS in the world (basically, set it up as an entertainment unit – the ultimate “everything machine”), while preserving that classic 64 look. Great idea here! Keep up the good work!

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