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Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-a-step-back-forward dept.
concertina226 (2447056) writes "A group of Commodore fans are working on a new emulator with the ability to turn the Raspberry Pi £30 computer into a fully functioning Commodore 64 fresh from the 1980s. Scott Hutter, creator of the Commodore Pi project, together with a team of developers on Github, are seeking to build a native Commodore 64 operating system that can run on Raspberry Pi. 'The goal will be to include all of the expected emulation features such as SID sound, sprites, joystick connectivity, REU access, etc. In time, even the emulation speed could be changed, as well as additional modern graphics modes,' he writes on his website."
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Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

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  • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday April 14, 2014 @02:38PM (#46749725)

    We have had C64 emulators for a while.
    The Raspberry PI is more than enough to do the work of a 30 year old personal
    computer.

    It isn't really that interesting the fact that it has been done.
    But for the person who did it, I would say it was pretty cool that they tried.

  • What would be genuinely cool, on the other hand, would be a board which went with it which included a SID socket and which implemented all the hardware interfaces, and which attached to the GPIO.

  • Re:old tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @03:08PM (#46749991)

    It's called nostalgia. You'll know what it is when you get older.

  • Re:old tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday April 14, 2014 @03:18PM (#46750095)

    Superior in specifications, maybe. But I'd say that 99.999% of today's programmers have no fucking clue what code optimisation really means. This is nostalgia about a time when people actually gave a fuck about what they were doing.

  • Understandable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrainRam (939611) on Monday April 14, 2014 @03:59PM (#46750439)

    The Commodore 64 was right at the cusp of technology where a device could be almost fully understood by a dedicated layperson. If you picked up the Commodore 64 Programmers Reference Guide, you got 504 pages (1.4 lbs) of technical data, including a full system schematic. Low-level programming involved tweaking memory locations that were (effectively) hard-wired to chip pins, directly manipulating the state of the SID or modem chips. Want to watch tape I/O coming in through the bus? Just watch the right memory location.

    Today's systems are far more powerful. But I bet most professional developers can't say they fully understand all of the timing, pipeline, memory I/O, bus architecture, video pipeline, and everything else that makes these machines great. There's a lot of "black box", even for the experts. Read Abrash's Graphics Programming Black Book Special Edition if you want to see how much there is to know about optimizing even a single function in what is now a 20 year old machine.

    The power of computing comes from abstraction. But the Commodore 64 (and the Apple ][) marked a tipping point when you could dig into the abstraction as a motivated beginner and strip away the layers until you were dealing with the bare metal. And there is power in that understanding. A bottom-to-top stack of knowledge that helps develop mental models that make more complex systems easier to understand. While my daughter has a very powerful laptop for school, way more powerful than a C-64, it highly unlikely that she or any of her peers will be able to peel the onion back to the physics of electricity like my generation was able to.

    So I'd rather have today's tech. But I'm glad that I got to spend a lot of time with a C-64 in my youth, or I'd be nowhere near the programmer I am today. That's where the nostalgia comes in. Greatness in (relative) simplicity.

  • Re:old tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Monday April 14, 2014 @04:58PM (#46750913) Homepage Journal
    It's the first computer many people had access to, and especially the first computer they could actually program themselves. In an era where PCs cost thousands of dollars, a C64 cost only a couple hundred. Parents could afford them and the default shell was a BASIC prompt. Plus, it had built-in hardware to support making games (sound chip, sprite generator, joystick port) which made interesting to the kids first learning how to program on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2014 @05:20PM (#46751053)

    http://www.templeos.org/Wb/Accts/TS/Wb2/TempleOS.html [templeos.org]

    "The vision for TempleOS is a modern, 64-bit Commodore 64."

    But like I said, the author is quite insane. Just...watch the video.

    Yes, it is real and he is for real.

  • Re:old tech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MarcoAtWork (28889) on Monday April 14, 2014 @05:59PM (#46751313)

    I laughed at the joke, but it is actually true, you can't compare the feeling one got in the early 80s when computers were new and mysterious (and expensive) and they got a C64, the vast majority of things now are commodity, there is going to (predictably) be a new and (slightly) improved model next year or in a couple of years at the most, there is not as much attachment as there used to be.

    When the C64 came out, you didn't already know that next July/September the C65 was going to come out, and the year after the C66, etc. you didn't need a credit card to play your C64 games, you didn't need to pay $0.99 every 5 games of Archon or wait 1 day for the 'crystal' to 'recharge', most games were not thinly veiled attempts to nickle and dime you to death. You didn't have Archon 1983 knowing that Archon 1984 was going to come out next year with slightly reskinned pieces, and Archon 1985 the year after that with maybe a rule tweak or two.

    In order to have nostalgia you need a unique time to think about, and nowadays electronics (and increasingly games) are anything but unique: there is no money in fostering feelings of attachment to what you bought, the money is to make you want to get rid of it and get a 'better' model basically as soon as you got home from the store.

  • Re:Understandable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mryll (48745) on Monday April 14, 2014 @06:28PM (#46751549) Homepage Journal

    Another thing is that you really had the sense that you were on the edge of something new back then. These were some of the first computers that were adopted by the public in significant numbers, and if you had one, you were really one of the few early computer owners. If you happened to be a teenager, more exciting and better yet

    In those days using a computer was really a choice of love, because it was NOT CONSIDERED COOL. You had to pay some social stigma price to stick it out. We did. The younger folks never really faced it.

  • Re:old tech (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bonobo_Unknown (925651) on Monday April 14, 2014 @08:24PM (#46752315)
    I don't know that blindly optimising for one set of resources is a good thing. My grandpa would say the same thing when us kids worked in the shed, he would constantly remind us to collect the nails from the timber we were re-purposing, and straighten them and put them into jars because once upon a time in the great depression nails were much more expensive than they were now, and you couldn't go down to the store and get 100 for a dollar, and in any case you didn't have a dollar. In this sense grandpa was really optimised for nail and resource consumption, but perhaps he was not optimised for time consumption. So he was optimising for resources in a time where he would have been a better manager to optimise for time.

    When you talk about code optimisation you are always talking about a trade off. In old systems you were forced to optimise for memory and processor time at the expense of time, money, security and memory protection (robustness) optimisation. Now, with far more memory and processor cycles available to us than most programs need we can optimise for other things - example: we can use frameworks and libraries to manage memory so that programs although they don't run as fast as they would if optimised for memory and processor they don't leak memory, and their performance is adequate for their use case. It also takes a lot less time and resources to develop now.

    So what I am saying really is when you say something like "99.999% of today's programmers have no fucking clue what code optimisation really means", well the truth is that they do, but that they are optimising for the elements that are the most scarce rather than the elements that are now relatively abundant being memory and cpu time.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson

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