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The Commodore 64 was produced for a 12 years from 1982 to 1994. It had several iterations of case color, keyboard color & keyboard labels, badge etc.

Commodore was famous for using whatever parts they had in their stock. You can find different combinations like dark brown bread bin case with dark colored key caps and silver badge or vice versa. Electronics inside also had several variations that I don't want to mention here.

When it comes to the case color, I knew four variations: the original design a.k.a. bread bin had two variations. The original was dark brown and later editions were light brown. Then came the wedge design with lighter beige or white coffee color. Finally there was C64G which was manufactured with a bread bin case made in the same white coffee color as the wedge case.

However today I happened to see a picture that confuses me.

enter image description here

I know the plastic became more and more yellowish with time. So the yellow cases at the top row and second row from the bottom are ok.

What intrigued me, the gray cases at the bottom row. I didn't know the Commodore made a case in this color. Did Commodore ever produced gray colored Commodore 64? Are they real or just a false color due to exposure or white balance settings of the photo?

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    It may be helpful to know where/when this picture was taken? If it was fairly recent then some of these units may have had more or less aggressive "retro brighting" applied.
    – Edders
    Feb 2 at 12:02
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    Picture apparently from Noel's RetroLab. Since they are still making content, they might know the story about these machines. I know, my normal thing, ask the source if it still exists...
    – UncleBod
    Feb 2 at 12:03
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    If someone back in the day asked the color of my VIC-20 and Commodore 64 cases, I would have indicated white and gray, respectively. I'm not sure exactly what my "color vocabulary" would have been, but I would have definitely regarded it as not being "charcoal gray" and not "beige". The second machine from the bottom in the left column would be closest to what I remember.
    – supercat
    Feb 2 at 16:24
  • I can't remember whether it was 8-bit Guy or Noel's Retro Lab, but I remember one of the videos I watched commenting on how Commodore varied things a lot over the lifespan of the C64, even down to not necessarily caring about keeping the same case consistently coloured over its production lifetime, so it's within the realm of possibility.
    – ssokolow
    Feb 2 at 19:11
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    If you will accept anecdotal evidence, the grey machines in the lower right of the photo look exactly like the one I had, which was bought from a Canadian retailer in 1984.
    – Psychonaut
    Feb 4 at 9:40

2 Answers 2

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Commodore was famous for using whatever parts they had

That sentence already captures most of what's at hand.

Commodore wasn't really picky about their colours. They used what ever their suppliers delivered, roughly matching the colour scheme. Different batches used different suppliers with slightly different colour ingredients. These may look alike 'close enough' when new but age different.

Next, perceived colour is incredibly dependent on light source, angle and environment. The first factor being maybe the most important one.

I guess we all remember that Gold and Blue dress. Our brain does not process some each 'pixel' separate, but interprets colour under assumption of a specific light source. If we see a picture in an office we assume different mixture than on bright daylight or a clouded afternoon.

Not to mention that modern digital cameras do a lot of colour mangling to capture colour for the human eye.

It's all in the eye of the beholder :))

So any colour description, especially when using terms like "dark brown", "light brown", "lighter beige" or "white coffee" is quite vague anyway. But there were as well grey ones. In fact, personally I'd put most cases into a grey category. Some brownish-grey others light-grey and so on...

This page of Bryan Lunduke's substack shows several original Commodore (US) C64 ads. I wouldn't attribute any of them as brown. Eventually except the last two, but even these seem rather due an overall brownish effect, maybe added by coloured light.

Or take the picture attached to this tweet showing a brownish grey (US?) C64 (top left) vs. a yellowish C64C (top ight) vs. a light grey C64G (lower right), all taken with the same camera in basically the same lighting.


Now for the picture shown: The first one in the lowest row is most likely an Aldi 64, which had a medium grey case but white/grey coloured keyboard, like the C64c (C64-II) - after all, it was essentially a C64c in a bread bin case.

The name stems from being sold in 1986 exclusive at German/European Aldi stores. Interestingly the series was not manufactured in Germany but the US. Note, the Aldi C64 is NOT the later (1987), very light, almost whitish, coloured C64G (C64-III). People often mix up these two series as both were sold thru Aldi.

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There never was a "Grey" Commodore 64. The Commodore 64C was a white/beige slimmer version.

but

During the latter part of the 8-bit era, Commodore releases a Plus/4 which was a much smaller unit and a Commodore 16 which was a grey cased system with slimmer specs but the case itself was actually very similar to the older C-64. Commodore 16

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    To be fair, none of the computers in the photograph that prompted the question is a 16. They're all 64s.
    – Edders
    Apr 12 at 11:26
  • This is why I clearly stated that there was no Grey Commodore 64. But one could mistake a C16 for a C64 just on cursory outside appearance. Apr 12 at 11:28
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    The Aldi ones were pretty much grey.
    – scruss
    Apr 12 at 13:36
  • Do you mean that the ones in OPs photo are fake? If so, I guess I have a number of fake grey "breadbin" C64 at home too!
    – pipe
    Apr 27 at 11:36

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