The "Commodore ITX-64"
By Neil Jansen
Posted on April 28, 2003
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A while back, a friend from work was getting rid of all the junk he'd been collecting for the last 20 years, and asked me to stop by to see if there was anything I'd like to have. As I was going through all the boxes, most of it was junk, but I noticed something over against the corner: a breifcase-sized device with a handle. "What is that thing, an old TV Projector??" I asked. "No, that's a really old laptop, my kids used to play games on it."

The first truly stealth Mini-ITX mod?

He wasn't kidding! This thing was an OLD laptop! The Commodore SX-64, the first portable color computer in the world. Released in the early '80s, these things were sold to business executives, but due to crappy marketing and bad business decisions, the SX-64's dissappeared before the general public had a chance to catch on.

Even though I had tons of games for this thing [four boxes of floppies and cartridges], there was still something missing. Windows XP has spoiled me to death, allowing me to watch movies and play games and do my taxes and so much more. All that, and I could even play Commodore games through an emulator, all without sorting through boxes of floppy disks!

So then it hit me... I've seen computers stuffed in everything from toasters to tube radios, but what about my SX-64? I could still run an emulator on it, stick my Pioneer slot-load DVD where the 5 1/4" floppy used to go, interface the internal CRT, and then hook the keyboard up so it's actually useable. Then I'd have a completely portable PC that I could bring around to LAN parties, and when it's at home, I could use it as a HTPC, hooked up to my TV and stereo. I decided to keep it completely "stealth" so I could fool people at LAN parties into thinking I brought a real C64 and then watch their jaws drop when i minimize the emulator ;]

Taking a peek inside....

The first step was to open it up and make sure there would be enough room for a newer motherboard (and the power supply, and the drives...). Three motherboards later, the only motherboard that can truly fit inside the case without a lot of warranty-voiding modification is a Mini-ITX system (I had a Shuttle FV-25 FlexATX board in here for a while but I had heat problems)... I decided not to replace the CRT portion with a 5" LCD mostly because of viewing angle problems and money reasons, but also because it would give away my 'stealth' modification :)

Completely gutted!

So when I was completely sure that this was do-able, I spent a few hours with my trusty Dremel and removed anything that wasn't needed. the only thing I left was the CRT and the knobs up front that control the CRT.