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It's funny.  Laugh. Portables (Apple) Technology Hardware

The Commodore 64 vs. the iPhone 3G S 238

Posted by timothy
from the next-week-chocolate-torte-vs.-charles-manson dept.
Harry writes "The unfortunate news about Apple rejecting a Commodore 64 emulator from the iPhone App Store inspired me to compare the C64 to the new iPhone 3G S, in more detail than any rational person is likely to compare them, ever again. If nothing else, it's a snapshot of just how far technology has come since the C64's release in August of 1982."
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The Commodore 64 vs. the iPhone 3G S

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  • Oh well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Luc1fel (1469805) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:22AM (#28439417)
    Then it's settled. I'm getting a Commodore instead.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jekewa (751500)
      I've got one in my garage. Still works. 170K floppy AND tape drive. I've got an Amiga 500, too. Even have an old Apple III (or was it IIi?). Sometimes called "the museum" by the wife. AFAIK they all work still.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:24AM (#28439445)

    It's quite clear what Apple approved was selling individual C64 games or apps individually that used an emulator underneath. Not a full fledged emulator that would let you program your own games, or play whatever C64 software you have.

    Apple probably read their website and realized their goal was quite different then what they were told earlier.

    It's quite clear that an emulator is OK as long as it can only run the app sold with it, and not arbitrary code.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:34AM (#28439649)
      I do wonder about Apple's policy there. Ostensibly, it's to stop you running an unapproved app by running it in an emulator, but they're perfectly happy to approve apps which pull down arbitrary and equally unapproved content from the web.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I do wonder about Apple's policy there. Ostensibly, it's to stop you running an unapproved app by running it in an emulator, but they're perfectly happy to approve apps which pull down arbitrary and equally unapproved content from the web.

        Is it really any different than the Hot Coffee fiasco? For every person of age X who downloaded the mod, a dozen of the same age were probably downloading hardcore zebu porn MPGs but that isn't directly tied to a game, so is business as usual.

      • That's true to an extent, but I think the real fear is non-Apple, and more importantly iPhone specific runtimes being able to exist for iPhone apps. Apple wants to make iPhone apps iPhone exclusive, as their app library is one of the strengths of their platform. I assure you anything resembling a general purpose way to get non-specifically coded apps to run on the iPhone will be shot down ASAP.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:34AM (#28439659) Journal
      It's not FUD if it's true. Are you even reading what you're writing?

      It's quite clear that an emulator is OK as long as it can only run the app sold with it, and not arbitrary code.

      It's okay to use this device that you've bought for running Apple-approved software, but not for running arbitrary code. That's not FUD, it's Apple's policy. If you're happy with a device that has this kind of restriction, then that's great, enjoy yourself.

      • by fbjon (692006)
        But what code does the policy prohibit? Obviously, arbitrary native code is right out, but isn't the C64 emulator a sandbox?
        • isn't the C64 emulator a sandbox?

          ActionScript and Java run in a sandbox, but they're rejected too.

          • Re:Flash and Java (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:34AM (#28440553)

            isn't the C64 emulator a sandbox?

            ActionScript and Java run in a sandbox, but they're rejected too.

            Javascript or Brainfuck also run arbitrary code in a sandbox, but they're not rejected.

            Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of the Apple app store, where any app could be removed at any time, because they could all be interpretted as infringing some part of the SDK rules.

            • by tepples (727027)

              Javascript or Brainfuck also run arbitrary code in a sandbox, but they're not rejected.

              I can't speak for Brainfuck, but the developer agreement mentions JavaScript inside Safari as the only approved way to execute arbitrary code.

        • by Em Ellel (523581)

          But what code does the policy prohibit? Obviously, arbitrary native code is right out, but isn't the C64 emulator a sandbox?

          Its not about sandbox or any performance issues or any other excuse they throw out. Its simple - any code that did not get bit for bit approved by Big Brother Steve is out. So any sort of interpreter or emulator is out. Flash is out. Palm emulator (there was one written a year or so back, would be nice to have it) is out. Anything that may run anything that is not completely controlled by Apple is out.

          What is interesting is that web based apps are still allowed, but I would not be surprised that slowly they

    • by gilesjuk (604902)

      I would agree with you if it wasn't for the SID player that does the same thing but for C64 music.

      Apple are shooting themselves in the foot with their rules. I know what they're trying to do, prevent unlocking of the phone.

      • I would agree with you if it wasn't for the SID player that does the same thing but for C64 music.

        I bet most people don't realize that a SID player playing C64 music is actually executing the extracted music routines. People think of music files as being either sheet music with only the most rudimentary control structure (MIDI, MOD) or a recording (MP3, WMA, etc.). SID files are a fairly rare beast in that they're straight code. While enthustiasts grok it, everyone else (including the sort of people who approve or reject apps for the iPhone) will just wonder why there's no rewind button and go no futher

    • by mini me (132455) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:07AM (#28440113)

      It's quite clear that an emulator is OK as long as it can only run the app sold with it, and not arbitrary code.

      Except it's not clear. There's a Brainfuck interpreter [apple.com], as well as a Z-machine interpreter [apple.com]. Both execute arbitrary code which can be downloaded from a remote source, or entered right on the device itself.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      It's quite clear what Apple approved was selling individual C64 games or apps individually that used an emulator underneath. Not a full fledged emulator that would let you program your own games, or play whatever C64 software you have.

      Which is why smart developers create "Easter Eggs" [wired.com] in their iPhone apps.

  • Nice Shapshot! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jchawk (127686) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:26AM (#28439493) Homepage Journal

    Good overview of the two technologies.

    One point of correction the iPhone has successful run Apache so it can be used as a web server (for what it's worth). Here's a related article -

    http://www.modmyi.com/forums/native-iphone-ipod-touch-app-launches/2665-apache-iphone-how-cool.html [modmyi.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by clone53421 (1310749)

      According to the comments on TFA:

      Kevin Harter Says:
      June 21st, 2009 at 10:10 pm

      Well, actually.... There are at least TWO web servers for the iPhone IF it has been jailbroken. Apache and Lighttpd are both available in Cydia and, probably, Icy.

      (Yes, I know that the 3G S has yet to be jailbroken, but all other iPhone OS devices have, so I think it deserves a mention.)

      Harry McCracken Says:
      June 21st, 2009 at 10:20 pm

      @Kevin: Also a good point–when the 3G S is jailbroken, I'll try to update.

      –Harry

      So yes

      • If we want to be technical, there are some apps that implement their own web server so users can navigate to some address to configure some features or whatever. Obviously you can't use such implementations for anything besides that which they are designed to do, but a web server it still is.
    • How is it a good review? Many of the fields he entered "you know.. I'm really not sure". A quick google or hacking the device itself will tell you more answers than this "review".
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#28439545)
    MOS Technology VIC-II; no 3D capability

    True, but at the time, 2D hardware features were as much a bullet-point as 3D acceleration today, and the C64 had some quite impressive 2D tricks up its sleeve.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      True, but at the time, 2D hardware features were as much a bullet-point as 3D acceleration today, and the C64 had some quite impressive 2D tricks up its sleeve.

      Indeed - the C64 had some impressive graphics and truly amazing sound capabilities for it's time. One has to keep in mind that the C=64 appears just a little after dinosaurs first roamed the earth [lcurtisboyle.com].

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      Well, wasn't there a version of Space Harrier for the C-64? Plus some flight simulators I'm sure...

  • by Mprx (82435) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:29AM (#28439555)
    It used a 6510, which is a modified version of the 6502 with an extra IO port.
    • by bobintetley (643462) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:58AM (#28439981)
      It also ran at half the clock speed of the 6502 (6502 = 2Mhz, 6510 = 1Mhz). I used to code stuff on the C64 demo scene. What I really miss nowadays is the fact that it was the last time I fully knew all of the internals of a machine I was coding for.
      • by codegen (103601)
        The 6502 was available in multiple clock speeds. The Apple II and PET ran the 6502 at 1MHz. As far as I know, only the Vic 20 and the BBC micro ran the 6502 at 2MHz. The apple IIc had a 4Mhz 65C02, and there were the transwarp cards for the Apple II, but they were after market add ons.
        • Vic 20 was 1 MHz, BBC micro was 2. (Otherwise the Vic 20 would have been faster than the C64....) Finally C128 had 2MHz

          • by codegen (103601)

            Vic 20 was 1 MHz, BBC micro was 2. (Otherwise the Vic 20 would have been faster than the C64....) Finally C128 had 2MHz

            You are correct. My mistake. However, the C128 was an 8502 (fast version of the 6510).

  • Of course, the AT&T contract was only required in the USA; in parts of the rest of the world dial-up access was available without a contract from a phone company in the '80s. The price comparison doesn't include the contract for the iPhone. Comparing it to one on a pre-pay contract would be more fair, which brings the C-64 a lot closer (until you account for inflation).

    The iPhone wins on portability, although the C-64 could drive an external display including a large TV (no HD support though).

    • The iPhone wins on portability, although the C-64 could drive an external display including a large TV (no HD support though).

      It did have s-video though. While the plug was nothing like the current standard, a Commodore 64 monitor used the same luminance and chrominance setup. To make the slashdotting of a frontpage-linked site a tiny bit worse:

      http://www.allpinouts.org/index.php/Commodore_C128/C64C_Video [allpinouts.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Wouldn't it be more appropriate to compare the iPhone 3GS to the Apple IIgs?

  • Price comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by furby076 (1461805) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:32AM (#28439599) Homepage

    The iPhone 3G S has 4,000 times the RAM (256MB) for one-third the price (with an AT&T contract)

    Your price comparison is not really good. You should compare an uncontracted iphone price (500 or 600) to that of a c64. The contract lock is worth money - especially considering how much you buy to maintain your service. THen again you get more from the contract (phone service, access to the internet, etc). So a better comparison is the straight phone price to the c64 price.

    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:54AM (#28439915) Homepage Journal

      The iPhone 3G S has 4,000 times the RAM (256MB) for one-third the price (with an AT&T contract)

      Your price comparison is not really good. You should compare an uncontracted iphone price (500 or 600) to that of a c64. The contract lock is worth money - especially considering how much you buy to maintain your service. THen again you get more from the contract (phone service, access to the internet, etc). So a better comparison is the straight phone price to the c64 price.

      Don't forget to correct for 27 years of inflation! Incidentally, this brings the C64 price to $1,318.59. Beat that, Apple Elitists.

      • Well, those of us who enjoy trolling would point out that the C64:
        1. Came with developer tools, and didn't charge extra for them.
        2. Allowed you to run apps from any third party without Commodore needing to approve them.

        We'd probably also point out that the price of the C64 went down a lot. I remember them being around £50 in Argos and shops carrying a lot of games for under £5.

          1. Came with developer tools, and didn't charge extra for them.

          It looks like you're trying to draw a contrast here. However, the developer tools for the iPhone are also free [apple.com].

      • Well... some items in his list he uses 1982 analogies (Toys R Us, Phone Monopoly, etc), and some he lists things available for C64 now (Twitter client). He could list either the equivalent price today ($1,318.59 2009 dollars), or the ebay price today (~$20 shipped).

    • I also don't recall if he mentioned having adjusted the C64 price for inflation.

  • Progress (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:33AM (#28439623)

    At least this time Apple rejected something that was actually forbidden by the app store's rules.

  • The iPhone might have hardware 3D graphics, but only the C64 had hardware sprites.

    This Flash C64 emulator [codeazur.com.br] is pretty nifty. It still needs some work though. I guess the iPhone doesn't support flash, but other phones might be able to run it.

    If you want to run a little C64 basic on that emulator, be aware that the key for the double quote character is SHIFT-2. (I can't believe I remembered that!)

    10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"
    20 GOTO 10
    RUN

    • by swordgeek (112599)

      Well, the Atari 8-bit machines had sprites in hardware too, and had it before the C-64 came out.

      But that's not why I'm following up. When I read your shift-2 comment, my first thought was "well, of COURSE! Where else would it be? That's not changed in the last 20 years or...

      (looking down at my keyboard)

      Huh. I guess I've retrained my fingers."

      I don't have any problems typing them, but if you asked me, I'd probably say "shift-2" is the location of double quotes.

      • Well, the Atari 8-bit machines had sprites in hardware too, and had it before the C-64 came out.

        The first machine with sprites was the TI-99. Hardware sprites were the master's thesis project of Danny Hillis [wikipedia.org].

    • by mikael_j (106439)

      What's so odd about pressing " oh, I mean shift+2 to get a "?

      It's a pretty standard way to type that character on a lot of non-US keyboard layouts.

      /Mikael

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        In US keyboards, there's an @ there now.

        The funny thing is, just like the other commenters, it seems like second nature to me too. I mean, I type normally on an modern US keyboard, but when I fired up a C=64 emulator for the very first time a few years ago, one of the first things I typed was:
        LOAD"$",8
        without missing a beat.

        It was only a few minutes later that I noticed that there was no quotation-mark over the "2" key and that due to some freakish mental glitch, my fingers kne

  • I don't know about you guys, but I'd take joysticks ports and RS232 over Bluetooth any day. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:36AM (#28439697)

    They forgot to include FREEDOM. You were free on the C64, no one could stop you from making applications, running them and distributing them freely to friends, who in turn, without big brother watching, could distribute your creations as well. You're not even allowed ot run a python interpreter on the iphone.

    And don't tell me about jailbreaking, jailbreaking is a DMCA violation and if AT&T catches you, you will be kicked off their network. You don't have control of your device, with the C64 you did.

    • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:55AM (#28439925) Homepage Journal

      Calm down.
      I agree not only could you write any code you wanted for free but Commodore included the scematics of the C-64! At least they did with mine but I had an early one.
      Not only that people disassembled the kernel and wrote books that included the listing and nobody sent them a take down notice!
      That was simpler time full of Compute and Byte magazine and taking your best girl to see ET and WarGames.

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        That is true. The indispensable "C=64 Advanced Programmer's Guide" included not only a complete Assembly Language reference and detailed memory and bus maps, but a fold-in schematic diagram of the entire machine.

                -dZ.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Could imagine any company doing that how?
          Of course I think Apple did the same back then as well.
          Woz was the true Steve.

          • IBM included schematics and a BIOS listing for the PC, XT, and the AT (through the AT 339).

          • by dzfoo (772245)

            I'm not sure I understand your point.

            Many companies may have done this in the past, that is true; but the point is that you'd be hard pressed to find this kind of official tinkering support from a hardware company nowadays.

                      -dZ.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        That was simpler time full of Compute and Byte magazine and taking your best girl to see ET and WarGames.

        "Best girl" I take it meaning the most complete and functional of your robot companions.

    • I think I would add FUN to that list. The C64 was fun to play with (programing or games). I remember one time my dad, big brother, and me hooked up our Commodore up to our Betamax VCR and recorded about eight hours of dig-dug. We took turns playing a marathon game and by the end of it we had about 20 roses and the fruit you got after dropping two rocks was any number of weird things, from the dig dug guy to a rock. I can't imagine iPhone ever being so much fun.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Vintermann (400722)

        That's ridiculous, you can do all that today as well, except you don't want to because you have an iphone. And anyway, the iphone is probably powerful enough to run an ...

        Oh. Never mind.

    • They forgot to include FREEDOM. You were free on the C64, no one could stop you from making applications, running them and distributing them freely to friends, who in turn, without big brother watching, could distribute your creations as well. You're not even allowed ot run a python interpreter on the iphone.

      And don't tell me about jailbreaking, jailbreaking is a DMCA violation and if AT&T catches you, you will be kicked off their network. You don't have control of your device, with the C64 you did.

      So get a G1 phone. It has a keyboard. And with the developer (unsubsidized) version you get to choose your network.
      I don't understand why everybody plays Apple's game and gives them publicity about, for Pete's sake, turning down applications!
      Just abandon them.

    • by schmiddy (599730)

      if AT&T catches you, you will be kicked off their network.

      Bollocks. AT&T could give a rat's ass what you do with your phone, as long as they're getting their $90/month from you. Apple, on the other hand, loses a lot of money if people start getting their apps from somewhere else. If AT&T kicks you off their network, they lose a customer who they had managed to lock in for 2 years of overpriced service.

      (Actually, AT&T might care if a whole bunch of people started tethering their iPhones wit

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Anonymusing (1450747)

      You know, since the C64 is so free, why aren't you still using it? You are STILL free on it. Not sure why you keep putting it in the past tense.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @10:37AM (#28439709)

    The only comparison that matters is you could write and run your own code on the C64 and you cannot on the iPhone.

    • by wurp (51446) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:01AM (#28440025) Homepage

      I think you have to buy the development key ($99) to deploy to a physical phone, but you can write whatever you like and deploy it to your phone. You can deploy to as many as 50 different phones without going through the app store or buying a site license.

      I don't remember for sure - you might even be able to deploy to a phone that's physically connected to your Mac without paying anything.

      I agree that you're nowhere near as free on the iPhone as we were on the C64, but it's just wrong to say that we can't run any code we like on our phone.

      I think it's also worth pointing out that there are huge potential exploits on a phone that weren't there on a C64. E.g. I could distribute a free app that eventually calls a 1-900 number I own, with no modem sticking out the back for you to disconnect.

      I have written and distributed an iPhone app [pharceapp.com] (and written C64 apps), so I'm not just spouting BS.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You can deploy to as many as 50 different phones without going through the app store or buying a site license.

        I'm trying to image a C64 developer proudly crowing, "We're allowed to sell 50 copies!"

      • by bnenning (58349)

        I don't remember for sure - you might even be able to deploy to a phone that's physically connected to your Mac without paying anything.

        You can, but only if you jailbreak. Build the app in Xcode without code signing, scp it to /Applications on the iPhone, then run ldid (available in Cydia) to give it a fake signature that will allow it to run. Yes, this is very stupid.

    • by jandrese (485)
      Heck, if you jailbreak it you can develop on the phone itself. I can't recommend that to all but the most hardened touchscreen enthusiast, but it is possible. There are packages that have gcc and development headers available on Cydia, and they do work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tom (822)

      You can. You just need to either jailbreak it, or become an iPhone developer, which is ridiculously easy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LihTox (754597)

      The only comparison that matters is you could write and run your own code on the C64 and you cannot on the iPhone.

      Hmm, I would have thought another important distinction would be that one of them fits in your pocket, and the other is the size of a breadbox, not including the monitor.

      Not to dismiss the calls for greater openness on the iPhone, which I fully support, but I can't help but imagine what a typical C64 user back in the day would think about this conversation. "Wait, you want to run a program on y

  • ...can they run Linux?
  • I just realized yesterday that my phone (Motorola i776) has as much memory as the computer at work which they refuse to upgrade. The first computer I had that would run DOS was a used IBM-XT, with 1/5 the drive space my phone has memory (unless I'm screwing up the math, I think I'm getting heat stroke from foolishly going outside). The XT had 175k IIRC.

    I just read TFA, what are the respective clock speeds? The XP was 4 mz, I have no idea how fast my phone's (or the iPhone's) processor is.

  • Price is wrong (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dzfoo (772245) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:21AM (#28440331)

    The article compares the current price of the iPhone with the introductory price of the C=64. A few years in (circa 1984), you could buy a C=64 from K-mart at $90.00 USD. This was convenience, since the cheap power supply tended to burn up and die, and it was sometimes easier and cheaper to just buy a replacement machine. I went through three of the things back then!

          -dZ.

  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @11:23AM (#28440365) Homepage Journal

    What kinda chip you got in there, a Dorito?

  • Lets look as far into the future as the past.
    I'll use my perspective as having been an experienced computer engineer back in 1982 (same age as Steve J).
    Some aspects will evolve at Moore's Law. Some aspects may reach saturation where new features dont make design or engineering sense (e.g. stagnant pocket calculators). And the things that much slower than Moore's, e.g energy sources.

    First, will the pocket-to-palm size video screen form factor still make sense? Yes it feels natural. Perhaps thinner
  • Apple][e (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Erik Greenwald (745) <erikNO@SPAMelfga.com> on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @12:11PM (#28441191) Homepage
    I wonder if an emulator for the apple 2 series would be approved?
  • "Total applications available 10,000"

    Nonsense. I have around 17000 C64 games in my collection, and at least 7000 demos. I don't how many applications there are in total, but I bet two sacks of gold it's at least 100.000.

    And what's that about "Major Hollywood releases available for download same date as DVD"? No, but a lot of titles hit the shops the same day as the movie they were based on premiered at the cinema.

    On the one hand it's nice to see stuff about the C64 on Slashdot, but it's kinda silly
  • on the iPhone?

    So no Apple //, Mac OS 9-, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Atari 400/800, or even TRS-80 and MS-DOS emulators on the iPhone?

  • Time to load Slashdot 2.0: [still waiting] [still waiting]

    Though there's a 50-50 chance the C64 would render it better. [pixelcity.com]

  • by Perseid (660451) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:13PM (#28443323)
    http://www.gamebase64.com/ [gamebase64.com] This database has 20000 games. Those are just the ones they've found and it doesn't even include actual applications, only games. The total number of programs for the C-64 is probably far more than 50000.
  • put it on Android (Score:3, Informative)

    by Maarek Stele (7770) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:15PM (#28443349)

    Apple rejects anything they think will turn them away from the phone's operation or make changes to it.

    PUT IT ON ANDROID and WM. You Won't be rejected there.

    No Flash
    No competitive Browsers
    No File Exploring
    No downloading to the phone

    and people say I should get an iPhone, there's a couple of reasons NOT to.

  • I LUV MY C64! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sxmjmae (809464) on Tuesday June 23, 2009 @02:50PM (#28443981)

    I saved and saved to get my C64. Way better than that stupid VIC 20.

    I have hundreds games for it. About a dozen or so game that I enjoy so much I keep my C64 around and 'load' it up so I can play them. A emulator for the Iphone/touch would be something I would love to have and pay for it - provided it had the games I love to play.

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