One of the most popular computers from the 1980s, the Commodore 64, is having a minor renaissance as an electronic musical instrument. The C64’s audio chip is famous for producing an array of warm, familiar 8-bit beats and blips.
As a result, the trusty C64 has become a popular platform for “circuit bending”, which is hardware hackers’ terminology for taking old technology, applying circuit modifications to output audio or video effects that the original device wasn’t necessarily designed to produce.
Now you can own your own circuit bent C64, without any electronic know-how. The circuit bending wizards from Bighead Electronics have made this extremely limited edition pre-modded C64, appropriately called the Bent64.
The system comes completely loaded Paul Slocum’s Cynthcart, a custom program which helps the heavily modded Commodore produce a wild cacophony of retro noise as you press keys on the keyboard.
The Bent64 is a ready-to-go electronic musical instrument, capable of cranking out 3-note polyphonic analog sounds, applying effects with a “whammy” tuning knob, and even stereo support if you can wrangle a second sound chip and install it in the provided socket. The Bent64 can even output a psychedelic light show through a composite video output, so you’re ready to rave out of the box.
Oh yeah, it’s still fully functional as a standard C64 with the flip of a switch before you boot up. So you’d better brush up on your Commodore BASIC.