Commodore USA: Revisiting history or rewriting it?
In the past couple of years, the developments in the computer world have been varied and widespread.
From GPU processing clusters, ARM platform dominance, small and low cost systems like the Raspberry Pi, and the return of Commodore.
The return of Commodore, you say? Yes. Well, not exactly.
In March 2010, a limited liability company named Commodore USA was founded in the United States by Barry S. Altman, specifically to market Commodore® branded all-in-one keyboard PCs and Amiga® branded PC compatible computers under license.
What that means in plain English is that Commodore USA is a new company that has a contract with the current trademark owners to produce, market and sell Commodore® and Amiga® branded computers.
While this is a perfectly legal and common practice, the company founded by Barry Altman is not the original Commodore Business Machines (later known as Commodore International Limited), as founded by Jack Tramiel. Nor is it affiliated with the original company that originally produced the legendary Commodore 64 and Amiga® computers in any way, shape or form.
In regards to Commodore USA, they typically use original design manufacturers (or ODMs) in Asia to supply them with their computer designs. Commodore USA’s licensed trademarks are simply applied to the existing product, and it is sold to the public as a Commodore® or Amiga® brand product. This is also a common practice within the computer industry, in many cases, manufacturers like Dell, HP and others do the exactly same thing.
However, what manufacturers like the aforementioned Dell and HP don’t do is misrepresent themselves as another company. Or claim they have a rich company legacy beyond their own. Unfortunately for Commodore USA, many aficionados of the original Commodore® brand have taken offense to that.
The reality of the matter is that Commodore USA licenses a few trademarks, applies those trademarks to products they don’t design, and sell them to the general public with “Commodore OS” products which are based on an existing free and open source Linux distribution.
There are no apparent laws being broken with these actions, but with a brand as historic and beloved as Commodore®, needless to say that some caution and forethought would be wise when representing such a precious history, even as a trademark licensee.
However, in business, there are no morals or reservations. Only the bottom line (profitability) counts in the business realm, and as long as Commodore USA operates within the boundaries or the law, there is unfortunately little recourse for fans of the original Commodore® and Amiga® machines.
But I (and others) believe that Commodore USA should be forthcoming with those who don’t know about the original magic of the Commodore® machines. When your company names its current models the same names of the original models by the original company, you inadvertently cause confusion and mislead those who are not aware of the history behind the original models.
So ten years from today, if a young adult refers to a Commodore 64 as „an Intel Atom based computer,“ then you’ll know the root of their ignorance.