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Commodore rises from the dead

Calls itself 'mobile media'... aka Chickenhead

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Comment The Chickenhead company, Commodore, chose 3GSM to launch into the mobile games business as a distributor. So, what is a Chickenhead? It's the popular name for the Commodore logo. And why is that a "mobile media provider"? Ah, that's quite a story! - it goes like this...

Commodore chickenhead 1Refugee Jack Tramiel escapes the gas chambers, comes to New York and starts a typewriter business. He wants to call it IBM, or something like that, and decides CBM is as close as he can get. He calls it Commodore Business Machines. IBM typewriters are, of course, the market leaders at the time. Gradually, Tramiel gets into electronics and becomes a calculator pioneer.

Tramiel finds himself caught up in the early microcomputer revolution, and releases the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) in 1977. It's an integrated unit, with a keyboard, display, and audio tape drive. Sells for $600 or so, snapped up by the new geek generation (curiously, all male!) of personal computer enthusiasts, since rival products are around $3,000. With the cash, Tramiel launches the VIC-20 and then the Commodore 64 - both aimed at the games market.

One of his biggest rivals in that market was Atari. When Tramiel fell out with the Commodore board in 1983, and they fired him (he resigned, whatever...) he revenged himself by setting up as his own rival.

Putting his sons on the board, and developing the TOS (Tramiel Operating System), he inspired the very successful Atari ST home/business range. Commodore responded by launching the even better Amiga, which was the ultimate games machine, but eventually, both companies ended up producing IBM PC clones (there was a very nasty dispute about who owned the Amiga chips, because Jack did a deal with the designers, but they took the view he'd been wearing his Commodore hat when they signed).

Commodore went bust 1994, and was successively examined by a procession of prospective buyers, all prime candidates for "titsup of the year", starting with Escom in Germany, before Tulip acquired it. Tulip did nothing with it until 2004 when it tried to rival the iPod by branding the fPET range with the Commodore name.

Last year, Yeahronimo bought the name, and now, it's using it to "get into mobile media content" as Commodore Gaming.

Will this finally succeed? "The new Commodore wants to connect the stylish age to innovative, basic but beautiful futuristic design concepts which are active and interactive..." said the corporate pointy-haired boss. "These products enable us to deliver a comprehensive digital media solution to our customers..."

Not good, not encouraging. What about the business?

A quick check of its announcements recently shows it is mainly concerned with mergers and acquisitions. There's no information at all on the "financials page from which you could glean an understanding of what it sells, or to whom - apart from the helpful pointer to Nasdaq - which shows the stock price, but otherwise says: "There is no annual fundamental data for this company."

Doesn't sound like a big "Yes! A Winner!" Really...

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