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Commodore 64 Still Beloved After All These Years 463

techsoldaten writes "CNN is running a story about the Commodore 64 and how people are still devoted to it after all these years. "Like a first love or a first car, a first computer can hold a special place in people's hearts. For millions of kids who grew up in the 1980s, that first computer was the Commodore 64. Twenty-five years later, that first brush with computer addiction is as strong as ever.'"
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Commodore 64 Still Beloved After All These Years

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  • Remix Scene (Score:3, Informative)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:00PM (#21614855) Homepage Journal
    I've played the games again sometimes with Vice. But its the music [] that I still love. Reyn Ouwehand (who rocks) just released this video [] of him jammin out to Green Beret. I guess that was an arcade game too though. Still, some of the remixes are pretty good.

    I tried to make one [] a few years back. Not quite good enough though.

    I always wished that someone would do a good remake of the game Below the Root.
    • C=64 Music (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:13PM (#21615049)

      But its the music that I still love.

      I had several nerd parties where we hooked up the C=64 to the TV and fired up SIDPlayer. There were a lot of cool game tracks and techno mixes, but we really loved the pop songs with lyrics that we would sing along with (badly). "I bless the ray--yains down in Af--ri--ca . . . " "The Band" would play in the corner of the screen while graphical depiction of the music scrolled by. Good times.

      Music Construction Set on C=64 got me interested in writing music of my own (also badly).

      • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:19PM (#21615123) Journal
        Am I the only one that thinks PEEKing and POKEing are kind of dirty abstraction labels for a programming language written for kids?

        I used to think that was funny as hell when I was one myself...
    • Had never heard of him. Kind of puts Tay Zonday to shame.

      I wish people like Reyn were the ones getting famous from their videos.
    • But its the music that I still love.

      Funny you mention music, Welle Erball []still uses a portable Commodore at their concerts. Good music, by the by.

  • by Like2Byte ( 542992 ) <Like2Byte&yahoo,com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:04PM (#21614907) Homepage
    The C64 was my third computer. I loved that thing. I was 9 when I got a CPM/Pet and was programming it within 6 months. Later I moved on to the venerable Vic-20. Then I got the PC that changed my life - the C64. The article got it right - no PC will ever elicit the same emotions that a C64 did for the owners of them of the time.
    • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:09PM (#21614987)
      You're right, the C64 had a certain something that no other computer had. The Amiga had it too, but the Amiga was similar enough to modern computers that it hasn't aged as well. You know what I mean? The C64 feels like something from a different, simpler era. It's like driving a Model T. It's so different that it has it's own appeal.

      The Amiga, as great as it was, just feels like a really low-rent version of a modern PC these days.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) *
        Yep; and it booted up instantly too.

        I fondly remember the moment when the datasette was finally replaced by a floppy disk drive (5 1/4"). That sucker was almost as expensive as a cheap laptop nowadays. Oh yeah, and we hole punched the disks at the edge, so that it could be used double sided. (For the youngsters: A 10 pack diskettes where around 40$).

        Fairly recently I installed an emulator on my Nokia 9300 (which actually has the better screen resolution) and while it does bring some nostalgic feelings bac

    • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:30PM (#21615303) Journal
      I know exactly what you mean, but I wouldn't say "no PC will ever elicit the same emotions that a C64 did".

      I remember that whole era quite fondly, but I never owned a C64. I was one of the ones in the TRS-80 camp (the Tandy "Color Computer 2" and later the "Color Computer 3", to be exact). I can assure you the Radio-Shack computer owners were just as fond of their machines as C64 owners were of theirs. For that matter, so were the Atari owners and the Apple //e owners.

      Back then, you just "picked a side" and defended it. It was usually based on which computer you were lucky enough to receive as an Xmas gift, or which one you managed to save your money up for and buy on sale first. (There were a few fanatics of various CP/M based computers too -- but generally, people using them "graduated" to something in the Atari/Commodore/Tandy/Apple camp, because those systems had color graphics, more commercial game titles for them, and better sound capabilities.)

      Of course, there were other "factions" too like the TI99/4A and even the Coleco Adam .... but I daresay these never achieved the market popularity of the other brands.
      • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @03:03PM (#21615785) Homepage
        "Back then, you just picked a side and defended it."

        Back then? I'm sorry, you must be new here.... ;-)
      • by deathy_epl+ccs ( 896747 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @04:07PM (#21616663)
        You see me now, a veteran,
        Of the old computer wars.
        I've been waiting on this load so long,
        But my sound chip's better than yours.
        And my raster tricks are nifty,
        But I sure could use more RAM
        The demoscene will last forever...
        I've got so much more that there's left to play!
    • I didn't get the PET computer, but William Shatner advertising the Vic-20 on TV made me want one. We got one and I learned some basic and machine code programming on it. I don't miss the "press play on tape" message that would come up on the screen when you told it to load something though. When I got the C-64 later, we got the 5010 SmartDrive (I think that is what it was called) to go with it so we didn't have to sit through tape loads. 5.25 inch floppy drive and at the time I was glad to have it. I progra
    • I started playing around with computers in 1976, my friend's dad was a comp-sci prof at UNLV and he would let us play with the mainframe in a limited account over teletype. Then my dad got a TRS-80 in 1978, that's when I started to program. Next, I got a TI-99/4A, which was a piece of crap but it was mine. Finally, I got a C64, and I was in heaven. So much memory, such good documentation, such a great scene including pirate bulletin boards and crazy-ass demos. I loved that computer.
    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:59PM (#21615731) Journal
      For us in Rightpondia, it was the Sinclair Spectrum []. Less than half the price of a Commodore 64, and with a faster processor, and smaller form factor, we got to feel smug despite the rubber keyboard :-)

      Also, the BBC Microcomputer. Twice as fast as the C64, and about the same price when it came out, and with a disc system that was actually worth a damn. The Beeb was fast, expandable (it could take sideways ROMs and RAMs), was easily upgradable to being networked (our school had a LAN in 1985 of BBC Microcomputers using Econet).

      The nice thing about the 8 bit days were there were lots of different, interesting architectures. It wasn't just a homogenous, boring, Wintel hegemony. So even though us Sinclair fans think the C64 is rubbish, it's still good it existed!
      • by jeremyp ( 130771 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @06:04PM (#21618355) Homepage Journal
        You are an early victim of clockspeeditis. The Z80 had twice the clock speed but the instructions generally took at least twice as many clock cycles to execute.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Irrelevant. Z80 had sophisticated instructions the 6502 did not have. They did take more than one clock cycle. Big whoop.

          The question should be, what CPU did more work, or could complete more work in a set interval of time. It was obviously the Z80. The 6502 had an 8 bit accumulator, and 2 more 8 bit storage registers which could be combined as a 16 bit value, for some operations (don't recall). The Z80 had an 8 bit accumulator, but 3 16 bit registers, and at least one could do some arithmetic operatio
    • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @03:30PM (#21616143)
      no PC will ever elicit the same emotions that a C64 did for the owners of them of the time.

      I think you're right, for a combination of reasons:

      1. The platform was fixed for many years, so it had a uniform, enduring identity like a console rather than an ephemeral one like a modern PC.

      2. As a computer, the c64 platform had more power and flexibility than a mere game console, and that gave it an Alladin's Lamp quality of magic and mystery that can only come from being able to crawl under the hood and goof around with things.

      3. It was the right thing at the right place at the right time, like Star Wars. The C64 wasn't the very first computer, but when launched it was probably the best. It had terrific graphics and sound for the price, and the games produced on it did tend to outshine those of its contemporaries.

      4. Its power and versatility combined with its relatively low cost gave good bang for the buck, and therefore made it a widespread phenomena - unlike the Amiga and other technically superior systems of the era.

      5. Lastly, it - more than any other computer at the time - gave us a glimpse of the future. Smart kids using C64s just knew that the future would be filled with affordable machines that could do everything quite well - games, graphics, sound, applications and more. The game consoles didn't do that, nor did the other computers in 1982 which had word processors and spreadsheet apps but scarcely had graphics or sound to speak of. The C64 had it all, and, even though we were little kids, millions of us instinctively knew that it was a portent of the future.

  • Still working? (Score:5, Informative)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:05PM (#21614919)

    I got through 2 C64s, and both of them were plagued with reliability problems - in terms of build quality, my Acorn Electron was far superior. I first had the traditional brown one, then the Amiga-style model they released when my first one broke. Both models had an annoying tendency to blow an internal fuse, and I remember it was a funny glass one I had trouble finding in shops, and both broke down beyond the scope of simple repairs after a couple of years. Don't even get me started on the power packs.

    So if my experience is anything to go by, you'ld have to be a real enthusiast and pretty handy with a soldering gun to have one still working after all this time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandrese ( 485 )
      There are pretty good C64 emulators available these days. I'd say that's a far less frustrating route than trying to find working original hardware (those stupid power supplies always died). Plus, who wants to load in something off of a 1540 again?
      • Re:Still working? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by damburger ( 981828 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:10PM (#21615001)

        Honestly, I was logging on to my university Windows XP domain about a week ago and was saying to one of my friends about how it made me nostalgic for how quick a C64 could load up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sm62704 ( 957197 )
          See, the intarwebs is made of tubes. Like your old radio and TV and record player back in 1958 when I was a kid, see. So since your XP computer is hooked to these tubes, it has to warm up, just like your old record player, TV, and radio. Just unhook it from the intarwebs and it will start up as fast as a new car.

          Yeah, it took longer for cars to start back then too, but it was the radio's fault. See, the radios back then used tubes. And not just the radios but the tires had tubes, too. That made them start e
      • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:20PM (#21615151) Journal

        Hear, hear. The C64 was pretty good except for those horribly slow disk drives. Who could possibly love that?

        One shareware emulator used that to nag you to pay. Don't pay, and you'd get faithful emulation of the disk drive speed. Pay up to get faster emulated disks.

        • Re:Still working? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:24PM (#21615211)
          The C64 was pretty good except for those horribly slow disk drives. Who could possibly love that?

          If you had spent a couple of years using a C64 with a tape drive first, you would have loved the disk drives, believe me.

      • Dreamcast+DreamFrodo+Typing of the Dead keyboard+TV. About as close as one can get without the real thing

        Bonus points if you re-label the keys to their proper C64 equivalents
    • I think your experience is not typical. I've got 2 C64s (brown and white) and a C128 and all are still working well. Now if you want to talk about reliability issues...ask about the 1541 disk drives.
      • Same here. 2 C64's (both the brown model though) and a C128, and all 3 are still working just fine. 1541 disk drive long dead though, along with my tape unit. I do have a 1541-II in the closet for them that I found for $2 at a flea market, but I've been unable to track down a power brick for it (I think I could make the data cable if I had to).

        I would absolutely LOVE to find a 1581 lying around somewhere though.

        For more trips down memory lane, I also have:

        2 TI 99/4a's
        1 Tandy TRS-80 Model 64 ( think that'
    • Re:Still working? (Score:5, Informative)

      by callmetheraven ( 711291 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:11PM (#21615023)
      Mine has a reliability issue: heat. After a while, the video output becomes plagued with "waves" that travel vertically up the screen. The machine has zero airflow, and a heat sink inside the machine is inadequate (discovered this by trial and error as a curious 15 year old.) So put a long screw and a nut through the hole in the heat sink, left the cover ajar, and let the screw protrude out the side to dissipate heat. Worked for me...

      Had to think of a way to keep the C64 running for a long session of Telengard (loaded from a cassette drive.)
    • by Mantrid ( 250133 )
      I remember my high school teacher dropping one on the floor, cracked the case but the thing just kept on going. I do remember some PSU problems, but those things were practically tanks.
    • I've still got a working C64 in my basement, including 2 working 1540 drives, and a working line printer for it. The 'Commodore' branded monitor is a little fuzzy now, but the system itself still works great. There's a Commodore PET down there too, which also still works.
    • So if my experience is anything to go by, you'ld have to be a real enthusiast and pretty handy with a soldering gun to have one still working after all this time.

      Mine weren't so bad. I did kill one early in its life by zapping the console on a staticky day, but it was in the 90 day warranty, so no problem. My ultimate C=64 still works. Some guys got pretty good drilling through the potting in the power bricks to get to the fuses in those.

    • Re:Still working? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:27PM (#21615257)

      I had a PC XT with CGA when all my friends had C=64 systems. The XT was horrible for games, CGA + PC speaker really sucked.

      The C=64 did so much more for games on so much less, it was incredible.

      ... but when it came to any real work, it was shocking how much I took for granted. I did not envy people swapping floppies while editing documents, submitting assignments with 7pin printouts with nines instead of the letter "g". Spending heaps of cash to replace power supplies or drives in the middle of the night. Just having an RS232 port, a reliable power supply, reliable floppy drive, an OS which was miles above the basic interpreter.

      It wasn't until I patched together a 286 with EGA and a sound card that games started to beat out the C=64. The C=64 still had more creative titles though :-)

  • I'm still holding on to my original VIC-20, the early production model with the 9VAC power supply.

    Then again, I may have about 30 C64s in my collection, in various states of operation.
    • by Sketch ( 2817 )
      I'm unfamiliar with the VIC20 9VAC power supply of which you speak, but the C64 and C128 had 9VAC output on the power supply as well (in addition to 5VDC). 9VAC was needed to drive the SID chip used in 90% of them.
      • by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:35PM (#21615369) Journal
        The early models had a two prong 9VAC power supply. The "box" outside the computer was simply a metal case with a transformer that stepped down the voltage from the wall outlet.

        The solid state components, including the rectifier, was inside the VIC-20 case, mounted onto a heatsink metal plate which was (of all places) on the top edge of the expansion slot. This meant that expansion cartridges tend to get hot from the mounting plate. And if you reached inside the expansion slot when it didn't have a cartridge installed, it nearly burnt your skin. The connector is shown here []
    • by e2d2 ( 115622 )
      One of the cool things that came with the vic 20 was a hard copy manual. In this manual they had sample programs written in basic. Many a child, including myself, got their start in programming right there.

      • I just had the simple manual that introduced BASIC. The real info was when the VIC-20 Programmer's Reference Guide was available for sale. There was a completely detailed section on 6502 op-codes. I cut my teeth on Assembly on my VIC-20. I hand compiled simple graphic commands and had things like cars and stuff moving on the screen, one pixel at a time, along with single pixel screen scrolling using VIC chip capabilities. Commodore did good on making that info readily available.
        • That's one thing I loved about my old BBC Micro Model B - the manuals. The main manual came with a guide to BBC BASIC (an amazing BASIC for the time, it supported proper procedures/functions and inline assembly!), a complete list of OS calls. The extended manual (we may have paid extra for it, I don't remember) even included a wiring diagram for the board! When I found the 'beeb' in a box a couple of years ago, it was nonfunctional - but the extended manual helped me find a dead capacitor, and replacing it
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I adore my 64, my Commodore 64."

    I spent many an afternoon after school competing at C64 games with my friends, most notably the Epyx 'games' series, and Skate or Die.

    Years later, I bought a C64, a 1541 and a bunch of those games so I could play them again as an adult.

    "Memories... light the corners of my mind..." sniffle
  • ...was a Tandy Color Computer 2, later replaced with a Color Computer 3. Last I checked, it still had a following. I found that kind of cool. If mine still worked, I'd have interacted with them. As it is, I had a moment of mourning for the little guy and moved on.

    But I don't consider either the Coco or the Comodore 64 still having a following newsworthy.They're both nice enough computers, sure, but communities dying slower than someone outside them expects has always been the rule, not the exception. A cert
  • The C64 has what many console lovers would dream of:

    It is an open platform. You can write your own games, and give them away to your friends. Remember the listings in C64 magazines? You can't do that with consoles like the Playstation, which is HARDWIRED so only "authorized" games can be booted on it. Nice move, really :-/

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Remember the listings in C64 magazines?

      I sure do. Remember trying to find the typo in the 3 pages of random characters? The row/column checksum program was a most welcome addition to my software library. After I finally found all my typos in it.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      Well, the heir was the PC, but it basicly suicided on multiplayer games. For one you couldn't use a TV with most computers and secondly there was usually only one game port. I had one gamepad, one joystick, one steering wheel... see the pattern? No it wasn't because I lacked friends, we'd take turn playing it because PCs were a one-man thing. That never really changed until we made LAN nights, where we'd still play on our own PC. Nobody stepped up and said with some balls: "We'll make a PC with TV out, FOUR
    • The C64 has what many console lovers would dream of:

      It also had one thing most PC programmers would dreams of:

      A fixed platform. If the software worked on your computer, it'll work on everyone else's just the same (SID filter notwithstanding)
  • by mamono ( 706685 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:09PM (#21614983)
    When I was 8 my first computer was an Atari 800XL. I grew up on that computer and I really loved computers...until I entered the corporate IT environment. Now I hate computers and the last thing I want to do is go home and use one if I don't have to. To me they are a tool, not a toy. I use them to get work done, do research and lookup information. Yes, I look at the occasional YouTube video or whatnot, but my "love of computers" is certainly no longer strong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:11PM (#21615009)
    He still loves his C64 years after being liberated from the Taliban.
  • Still in use (Score:5, Interesting)

    by antarctican ( 301636 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:11PM (#21615017) Homepage
    Sadly, my father still uses his original C64 to do his business books for tax time once a year....

    One of these years I have to set him up with an emulator rather than watch him suffer, swapping disks back and forth. :)

    The computer that will never die....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by burnin1965 ( 535071 )

      watch him suffer, swapping disks back and forth.

      Another option would be something like 64HDD []. That way he could still use the C64 and not have to worry about any significant difference from his current interface other than having a PC emulating his floppy drives.

      I used a linux driver and a floppy disk server application along with a home made sio to rs232 adapter to emulate eight floppy drives connected to my old Atari 130XE 8 bit computer. It works great, I copied all my floppies onto images on the server

  • by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:12PM (#21615035)
    The Commodore was a dependable old faithful friend. Your first true love. It had your kids. It supported you through tough times. But then came the time when you needed to upgrade to a trophy wife/super gaming rig. It saw it coming. You wanted ultra raw performance, and it just couldn't deliver it anymore. Still it thinks about you in quiet dignity, though reminiscing about love lost.
  • C=64 (Score:2, Informative)

    by koutkeu ( 655921 )
    sys 64738

  • I wish I still had my C-64 and VIC-20.

    But I have at least a few pieces of Commodore-related history: I still have the original copies of all the magazine articles I wrote for "Ahoy!", "Compute!" and "Compute!'s Gazette".

    I was the author of "64+", "Disk Package", and a few other gems back during the late-80s heyday of Commodore.

    Some fond memories indeed. :)

  • by Debello ( 1030486 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:18PM (#21615117)
    Welcome back our former computer overlords!
  • by Natales ( 182136 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:19PM (#21615133)
    Granted. Although I started on the Atari 800XL, not the Commodore (they were too expensive when I was growing up back in Chile), I'm sure the feeling is the same...

    What I consider more relevant about those days is that as kids we had to be "creators" instead of "users" as it happens today. The most fascinating idea about the computer was that you could "tell it" what to do, and it would just do it. The potential was endless, but you HAD to learn some form of programming language. The more control you wanted to have, the lower in the stack you had to go. I can't emphasize enough how "mind shaping" was learning assembly language on the 6502 (with only 1 accumulator and 2 registers)...

    It is hard to find the same in today's environment. You don't see a lot of 12-year-olds programming the computer any more. We have created a whole generation of "users" and I don't see an easy way to change that...
    • It is hard to find the same in today's environment. You don't see a lot of 12-year-olds programming the computer any more. We have created a whole generation of "users" and I don't see an easy way to change that...

      The generation before thought we were coddled because we didn't build our own hardware.
  • First car, what's that? I certainly loved my first computer however!
  • Amiga (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teknopurge ( 199509 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:22PM (#21615193) Homepage
    I had a c64 as my first computer - with the carts it took. I still remember playing various Carmen Sandiago games on it.

    Then I got an Amiga 1000; this is the computer that changed my life. 16-bit sound, great graphics, and an OS that loaded from 2 floppies (DS/DD) into 512k of RAM. If you take off the cover, you can see in the mold where all the people that went into building the 1000 had their signatures etched on the underside. All those cinemaware games: defender of the crown, SDI, Rocket Ranger, Lords of the Rising Sun, the 3 stooges. Those were games. Brilliant games. It has always seemed to me that something was lost between now and then. All the games today feel the same, where those older titles each were unique unto themselves.

    I also connected to my first BBS on that 1000 with its 1200-baud modem. I still remember being to tell through the speaker what speed I would end up getting when the connection finished. The local store that sold amiga's was the Slipped Disk. Being an 8-yr old kid going through their cases of Public Domain software for hours on end. They also had auctions - real-live auctions every few months where the store would be packed with people bidding on all sorts of peripherals. Joysticks, steering wheels, light guns, various versions of Deluxe Paint and the oh-so-cool Video Toaster.

    I can't help but think my reflections on the Amiga are nostalgia because I'm getting older, while a part of me wants to believe that things were really better back then, and that we lost something along the way...
    • Sigh...the Amiga :) I got rid of my A500 several years ago in a fit of insanity. Luckily I found an A1000 at a Goodwill plus a fair number of games. It seems strange to be using it on my 17" LCD TV.
  • My earliest experience with a computer was with the Atari 2600, but the first experience with a real computer that had a keyboard was with the C64 and Apple ][ systems they had in Elementary school. The first thing we did with them was play around with Logo, telling that turtle how to move around the screen and so forth. We delighted in making geometric patterns with simple loop algorithms and creating subroutines that defined how to create a square or other shape.

    Sadly, when I graduated high school in 19
  • ... And it's almost done loading Flight Sim!
  • The first I've ever coded on was one like this [] (I was 12-13, but it actually was around '90-'91), the first I owned was a C64C [], and then a C64G [], which was the one I really liked, and I still have it. It's like an old friend that never pisses you off and when you sit down with him with a beer you can chat hours long :D
  • The C64 was my computer for about 5 years as a kid, from 1983 to 1988. I loved that machine, but went through my fair share of 1541 drive realignments.

    I just recently picked up a GP2X F200 (the linux homebrew console from Gamepark Holdings in South Korea), my first ever handheld console at the age of 33. I was ecstatic at the 64 emulation on the device.. it was perfect! I'd played VICE and Frodo on my PC before, but paying games like M.U.L.E., Jumpman and Lode Runner again on a small handheld has made my
  • I felt this comment was very funny:

    It was widely considered clunky, its BASIC outdated and graphics weak in comparison to the Apple II and Atari 800, according to McCracken

    So the VP and editor of "PC World" still had to get a few licks in. I just have to laugh. Personally I always thought the Apple II crowd was secretly jealous of the better games, and FAR better sound on a C64. They felt they paid a lot of money for their machines, but didn't get as good a quality out of it. (hey, I gotta get my licks
  • Fond Memories (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lifyre ( 960576 )
    In the late 90's (97 to 99ish) I volunteered as computer tech for a local daycare for disadvantaged families when I was able to fit it around high school and sports.

    Shortly before I began helping them they had recieved a donation of almost 50 assorted old computer systems with various pieces of software and had put them in the basement. I started working my way through fixing and trying to get as many of them working as possible. Some were going to be given to families for their own use. Nothing was faster
  • by Targon ( 17348 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:37PM (#21615385)
    One thing that many people do not understand these days is why those old systems are still remembered so fondly. People scratch their heads and just don't understand it. As one of the people who got started on computers with machines like the TRS-80 model 1, Commodore PET(4016 and 4032), I like to think I have a bit of insight about what it was about those early days that makes many look back fondly on the games of the era.

    If you look back, you see a lot of text based games, or ugly graphics by the standards of today, so it's no wonder that people do not understand. One thing that was true of most of the games back then, they all were NEW, and many really pushed the abilities of the computers of the time. Story, and fun were key, and while many were pretty bad, there was no shortage of good ideas that were different.

    The differences are really what stand out in the minds of us "old timers". Think about it, you had a grand total of 16 colors that could be displayed at one time on a C-64, and yet, good games could be written that were not only fun, but had a story that stuck with us. Even into the early days of the PC, there were some really great games in those early days. The original Kings Quest with those really ugly 16 color graphics is an example of that same innovative spirit that makes those early days seem so wonderful. It wasn't the C-64 that was so great, it was the spirit of the game developers that made things seem to amazing.

    Trying to say it was the computer just doesn't fit, because the old Apple 2 series had it, in the same way the Amiga had it. It was a love for experimentation and creation, and it seems that these things that made those old games so amazing is all but dead. How much innovation is out there in the game industry these days? New features or abilities added to older games with new graphics will NEVER seem as amazing as the "old days".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Magorak ( 85788 ) *
      One of the things I tend to think about when looking back at those old systems was that there was an entirely different approach to getting apps to run on them. In those days, you had to use every last bit of RAM from anywhere you could get it. I remember the days of using the cassette memory on the C64 so I would have enough RAM to display sprites correctly. Or hell, using the buffer on the 1541 disk drive to store extra data when needed. It was all about trying to use what you had and not force others to
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dogtanian ( 588974 )

        If programmer's actually USED the resources we have like we used to on those old systems, man our software today would kick ass.

        There's actually quite a deep issue nestling away in there. I've wondered on more than one occasion just how fast a modern computer would theoretically be- and what it would be capable of- if its resources were programmed/used as efficiently as the old 1-16KB 8-bit machines typically were.

        People wrote chess programs for the 1KB ZX81, for ****'s sake! (I'd consider this a reasonably "optimum" use of the facilities available). A typical new PC will include 1GB, a million times as much memory and run..... m

  • by danlyke ( 149938 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:40PM (#21615435) Homepage
    I was an Apple kid myself, but recently I was touring a company that makes high end guitars that's run by a guy who's got a hackerly technical bent, and they've got CNC machines that they rigged up back in the early '80s with C64s that are still running on those same C64s.

    That was the most awesome testament I've seen to what computing used to be, I'm not sure I'd even trust a modern microcontroller to run reliably for 25 years in an industrial environment.
  • Actually, in a great feat of irony, I was listening to some Jeroen Tel right as I saw this story pop up. The High-Voltage SID Collection [] has a huge amount of C64 tunes available for download -- and quickly too since the files are around 5 to 50KB for a song.

    Sidplay 2 does a great job playing them and there's a plugin for XMMS.


  • by tranqlzer ( 170601 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @02:45PM (#21615511)
    When I got my C64, it came with a 300 page manual with detailed documentation on e.g. how to program the built-in sound and graphic chips. Which values you had to write to which registers and so on. I learned how to program assembler by reading this thing, at age 11.
    Of course there was also tons of undocumented stuff that you could only learn by doing. Some years ago I found out (using an emulator) that I still remembered carefully crafted tables of timing values to trick the VIC into showing nice animated color bars without flickering.

    When I bought my first Intel PC, there was a piece of paper which basically mentioned how to turn the thing on. Took me years to figure out how to do file i/o and draw some pixels in VGA mode.
  • I love how you could use Atari 2600 joysticks on C64 for two player games. My former next door neighbor and I used to play many games. We played a lot during the summer when schools were on breaks.
  • Yeah, I had one of those friends, who was such a control freak of his C64, that I basically rode my bike to his house just to watch him play. I think one of the reasons I am still involved in computers is because I'd have to come home to my ailing TI-99 and make it do something new and interesting. Computer graphics were a mystery to my friend, but I was playing with sprites on my machine, and although it wasn't as cool as his store-bought stuff (I made an asteroids-type game... that, er... crashed reliab
  • Anyone interested in the story of Commodore's early days in the computer industry should watch the recent 90-minute lecture by Chuck Peddle (who's also known for the MOS 6502 and the Kim-1). The video links and an explanation of the context are at in my blog. []
  • Anyone else parse that as "Giant Vagina Sisters"?
  • by Average ( 648 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @03:43PM (#21616299)
    My main box was the TI-99/4A. We stayed TI-99 people *way* longer than was reasonable (until I could afford junker DOS PCs from my own money some time around '93.) My father was kicking out desktop publishing (of a sort) and doing finances on the old beast until '95 or so.

    Fascinating community. I'd suggest that the Atari and TI communities were even more like the Open Source world. Commodores and Apple ][s were being made, and commercial software for them was developed through the early 1990s. Lots of Apple ][ people kept using Appleworks and Oregon Trail and Print Shop (and the culture of copying those programs, along with the escalation copy-protection and cracks lingers today). The TI was abandoned much earlier (1983), and the commercial world dried up soon thereafter. But, there were thousands of shareware programs still being written, distributed through floppies and user groups. Very few people ever expected to make a penny writing TI software, but they wrote a lot anyway.
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Friday December 07, 2007 @07:15PM (#21619153)
    Soldering your way to an upgrade.
    No support for anything beyond the stock ram.
    Trivial parts that you just had to have to make shit work, hard to find and cost too damned much.
    Trivial upgrades being sold as a new model "Now with tint control", and software geared toward that upgrade.
    Having to buy upgrades that were processed through the main company, which are no different than the stock part with the exception of a minor Rom tweak.
    Spending hundreds/thousands on a given platform only to have it be abandoned.
    Rats nest of wires. Wires for your disc drive, extra wires for your printer port, each requiring it's own power supply.

    I know it's popular on Slashdot to bitch about Microsoft, but imagine if Commodore won the computer revolution, or Atari.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.