April 11, 2011
by Mark Ollig
What’s old is new again.
The original Commodore 64 home computer made its debut in 1982, which, for me, doesn’t seem all that long ago – well, okay, it is that long ago . . . but I digress.
I admit to not owning a Commodore 64, or “C64” as some called it back then, (in 1982 I had my Timex Sinclair ZX81) but I did play some games using the C64 and also checked them out at the retail stores where they were sold.
Do you remember some of the games played on the Commodore 64, like GORF, Visible Solar System, Radar Rat Race, Mole Attack, Pitt Stop II, Avenger, Ace of Aces and Jupiter Landing?
The C64, manufactured by Commodore Business Machines, was primarily a gaming machine, although it also had a collection of office productivity applications including word processing, an electronic spreadsheet, and a customized customer data base.
The Commodore 64’s rectangular shape, with the light brown and beige-colored plastic housing, was given nicknames such as “breadbox.” This case not only contained a full keyboard, but included all the computing components, as well.
The “64” was referring to Commodore’s 64KB (kilobytes, or 64,000 bytes) of Random Access Memory (RAM).
The Commodore 64 operating system was Commodore’s own proprietary BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) version 2.0 on Read Only Memory (ROM).
Inside the C64 was a MOS Technology 6510 central processing unit running at a clock speed of around 1.0 MHz.
The cost of the Commodore 64 in 1982 was $595.
The Commodore 64 was on display during the 1982 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Chicago.
During the early 1980s, the C64 was in direct competition with the Apple II, Atari 800, Radio Shack TRS-80, and IBM PC.
Around the mid 1980s, the Commodore 64 became the best-selling home computer.
I have seen an estimate of up to 22 million Commodore 64’s sold between 1982 and 1994.
The C64 included two game controller ports, TV video and audio output connectors, a cartridge memory expansion slot, a serial connector for a printer or external disk drive, and an edge connector interface that could be used with the Commodore’s Datassette Recorder, which was an audio cassette tape unit used to store programs and data on.
Most of the kids at the time were drawn to the C64 because of the games, but they soon discovered it was capable of more than just gaming; a person could connect the C64 to a telephone using Commodore’s VICMODEM cartridge and call into a computer Bulletin Board Service (BBS) and communicate with others.
A Commodore 64 user could also dial-up into the online CompuServe network, and as their 1982 advertisement stated, use the C64 to get news updates, stock quotes, electronic mail or to do “computer shopping.”
Folks also used the C64 to learn about computer programming.
With no internal hard drive, the storage medium mostly used with the C64 was 5 1⁄4-inch floppy disks. One floppy disk held roughly 170KB worth of data. In comparison, one of today’s commonly used 2GB (gigabyte) keychain-sized memory sticks can store 11,765 5 1⁄4-inch floppy disks’ worth of data.
Yes, it’s mind-blowing, isn’t it?
After almost 30 years, the Commodore 64 remains popular with computer hobbyists.
Some of those old C64s are still in use even today.
Here we are in 2011, and with the wave of the magic nostalgic wand, an all new Commodore 64 has been brought back to life.
The new Commodore 64 has the appearance of the traditional model on the outside, combined with today’s advanced technology packaged on the inside.
Instead of 64 kilobytes of RAM, the new C64 has 2GB of DDR3 (double-data-rate 3) RAM and a powerful 1.8 GHz dual-core Atom 525 processor.
The new C64x Standard computer comes with a 250GB built-in hard drive.
Commodore’s new C64x Ultimate computer is equipped with a 1TB (terabyte) hard drive.
Also included in the new C64 is a full 1080p HD (High-Definition) video output, a DVD (Digital Versatile Disk), or newer Blu-ray disc drive, six channel high-definition audio, four USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports, a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), DVI (Digital Visual Interface), VGA (Video Graphics Array), and Ethernet connectivity.
The new 2011 Commodore 64 Basic computer is priced the same as the 1982 original model, at $595.
How’s that for nostalgia?
A link showing detailed photographs and additional information about the brand-new Commodore 64 can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/3qnah7c.
An Adobe PDF file containing a color brochure advertisement of the original Commodore 64 computer from July of 1982 can be opened at http://tinyurl.com/3ouq23a.