Commodore 64 Turns 30 Years Old, Still the Best Selling PC of All Time

34

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

Drew7

Technically my first PC was a TRS-80. I had a neat little program book that showed me how to make simple color changing visual stuff... Kinda cool. Then the interesting PC/Game console hybrid, the Atari XE. Although I didn't really get much "PC" use out of it... Mostly just gaming. I didn't get real until college when I was at the Massachusetts College of Art. I believe it was the summer of 1998 or '99 where I purchased my first "real" PC; A Dell Dimension sporting a Pentium III @ 450Mhz. This was my introduction to Photoshop. Next was a Pentium 4 1.8 Ghz (no HT), and then a switch to AMD when they were kicking Intel's ass with the Athlon (I had a dual core 4400+ that I was thrilled with). Today I'm still rockin' AMD with a Phenom x6 1100T, but this will probably be my last AMD proc, as I plan on switching back to Intel, for obvious reasons. By the way, I'm 36 :)

avatar

torquemator

My first computer? Timex Sinclair 1000 (z80 cpu operating at 500khz). Then the Vic20. Ran out memory pretty quick, got $100 off at Toys R Us for trading it in towards a C64 in 1982 (when I was 12). Used C64 (or C128 in 64 mode) until 1994. Taught myself BASIC, assembler, Pascal, and C on the C64. Wrote an application for the school, which they paid me $50 for, on the C64. Wrote a full accounts receivable program for the local paper on my C64, ran on his C64, kept track of multiple paper routes, customer accounts, printed bills, etc. Started with just the C64, and the C1530 tape drive, and an old 25" black and white TV someone gave my dad. Got a 300 baud 1660 modem and started BBSing. Long distance calls were expensive, though, and we lived in the sticks, so I didn't do much of that until later. At first, dad wouldn't let me have any games, so I had to write all of my own, or type them out of COMPUTE! magazine. I seem to remember there was one, Forbidden Forest, that was like 8 pages of two-column code that I ended up typing in like 5 times because it would never save properly to tape, but was just FUN to play. I ended up sending several program submissions in to the magazine, but never got anything published. In 1986 I used my part time job at McDonalds to pay for a phone line, and we'd moved nearer the city by then, and I stood up Digital Power BBS using Image 1.2 on a CMD hard drive, a 1541, and a 1571, with an Aprotek Minimodem C24, 2400 baud modem. I had a couple C64s by then, everyone I knew was aware that I liked that machine, and several I got for free and had to fix, and some I paid a few dollars for. As people got rid of them, many of them came my way. That's how I got my first C128. Though the CP/M mode was interesting, and the 80 columns were nice, I stuck with C64 mode. When I wrote a poker program for my BBS, and found it was a bit slow, even in assembler, I found that I could poke an address in C64 mode on the C128 and enable 2.0mhz turbo mode, though it blanked the screen. I set up hot keys to turn it on and off with RUN+S, and mostly ran the BBS on 2.0mhz mode. And people uploaded and downloaded games like crazy. I participated in the NISSA net, and could "email" people as far away as Austrailia, all this before the "internet" really started up for us pedestrians. Some of my favorite games included 1943, 4x4 off road, 7 Cities of Gold, Antirad, Archon chess, Barbarian, Bards Tale, B.C's Quest, Beach Head, Boulder Dash, Bruce Lee, Choplifter, Commando, Defender, Doriath, Duotris (2-player coop tetris!!), Eagle Empire, Eagle's Nest, Flying Ace, Friday the 13th, G.I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Ghosts N Goblins, Giana Sisters (with mario mod!), Hard Hat Mack, Ikari Warriors, International Karate, Karateka, Kikstart, Kung Fu Master, Loderunner, Maniac Mansion, Master of Magic, Miner 2049er, Moon Patrol, M.U.L.E., Nemesis the Warlock (where I get my handle!!), Neuromancer, Park Patrol, Pole Position, Pool of Radiance, Predator, Rastan, Robocop, Sargon II Chess, Sea Fox, Shamus, Sim City, Stunt Racer, Super Zaxxon, Sword of Fargoal (MANY hours of fun!!), Tapper, Temple of Asphi, Thanatos (how did they get a sprite that big!?!), Thunderbirds (are go!), Viking, Vindicators, Wizardry, Werner III (boulderdash reimagined?), Xybots, Ye Ar Kung Fu, Ultima (comleted Ultima 4 in just over 4 million moves!!), and Zork.

I ran the Digital Power BBS until 1993. Ah, that was a lot of fun. Last computer it was on, was a C128D in C64 mode. How I loved that big metal case and separate keyboard! =)

Alas, I had to move on when I could no longer even fit a simple Word document in memory to read it (though I had Big Blue Reader so I could read and write to IBM formatted 5.25" and 3.5" floppy disks). Got a Compaq 75mhz Pentium in 1994, bought C64S so I could play all my old games, and since then have built at least a couple hundred PCs (a few for me, mostly for other people).

Now I have a big bin full of commodore computers and peripherals, all updated with the last version of JiffyROM, plus an 18 megabyte ram expander (ramlink = 16 meg plus plugging in a 2mb expansion cartridge in the top) and a 20 meg CMD hard drive and commodore monitor, that I keep saying I'll hook up and use again someday. :/

Ah. It's good to reminisce. C64, you were the awesomeness!

avatar

SkinnyZeroOne

"You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded
front door.
There is a small mailbox here.
>"

Zork !!!

On my C64 .... Oh man what a game.

Sh*t - I'm old -)

PS Jumpman Anyone?

avatar

pastorbob

I played the original "Colossal Cave Adventure" on my H89. It had been translated from FORTRAN to 8080 Assembly language and ran under CP/M. Zork was based on that game as well. I spent far too many hours trying to navigate "A little twisty maze of passages" but did finally succeded in completing the game several times. It was a good wind-down when I came home from the 4-12 shift and the whole household was asleep.

I played this game again as recntly as 2008 on a version written for MSDOS and ran from the command line prompt in Windows XP.

avatar

CantankerousDave

Although I did play way too much Choplifter on the green-screen Apple II-whatever on the one machine in the middle school library, my first computer exposure was the bank of amber-screened PLATO machines in what passed for my grade school's computer lab. Empire. Oubliette. I was horrible at them both, but those clunky things were precursors to a lot of modern technology.

At home, though:
Ti99-4A
Commodore 64
Amiga 2000
Amiga 4000
Pentium 200
All PCs since then, all of which I built.

avatar

noobstix

First PC was a 386 job that had a 40 mhz CPU some kilobytes of RAM and maybe a hard drive with a few hundred megabytes of space. It ran DOS and Windows 3.1 pretty well. I still have a large collection of 5.25" and 3.5" floppies of DOS games. I can remember the DOS interface with it's white text and black background. Oh were the days where you typed in things like "Cd Doom.exe" or one of the all-time favorites, "format C:\". Eventually we had to upgrade to a Pentium to keep up with the times and have some more oomph running the latter versions of Windows. However, we stuck it in the same ol' 386 case which only had a 2-digit CPU clock display so it would read "99" for the 166 mhz CPU.

avatar

DogPatch1149

Started with a C64, 1541 disk drive, and the color monitor. Was overjoyed when I found out my Atari 2600 controllers worked perfectly with it! Spent many, many long hours playing Bard's Tale, Skyfox, Ghostbusters, Impossible Mission, Destroyer, Submarine (I think that was the name - like Destroyer, also from Epyx), Summer Games, Winter Games, and who knows how many others...also had Kracker Jax and many other copy programs. You know, for archival purposes.

Upgraded to a C128, 1571 disk drive, and that color monitor. Really did like the 128 mode - I thought it didn't get its day in the sun like it should have. In addition to the games, long days and nights of typing in programs from Compute's Gazette using both BASIC and the MLX editor.

Had many PCs of various types since then, but those two are the ones I have the most fond memories of using.

avatar

lunchbox73

I was in middle school at the height of Commodore awesomeness. Me and all my friends had C64's and we used to swap games on those good old floppies. Of course, we downloaded cracked versions of said games from local BBS's.

There's nothing like watching your download progress over a 1200 baud modem, hoping you don't go over your allotted hour of time. And that was IF you had enough credits and you were lucky enough NOT to get a busy signal when you tried to connect.

You kids don't know how easy you have it these days. :)

avatar

vyzer

1981 - A Kaypro!! $2000 and lugable - with a Novation J-Cat modem - 300 baud!

Followed by a Columbia IBM Clone with a 10Mb Harddrive, 128K ram, a 15inch color monitor running DOS 1. Over 4 grand. First on the block to have a mouse with it, run a graphics program (fontrix)- "mutitasking" (Quarterdeck DESQview). Tried the first versions of Windows -- terrible.

Somewhere in there was a small Atari. And then an Amiga - an awesome machine with terrible support. It was what the MAC from Apple should have been instead of that tiny, locked down, B&W, silly machine. And if it had been, Apples would be the dominant computer today.

Boy Howdy - then a host of PCs - about one every 1.5 to 2 years - first running DOS (and one running Digital's GEM) and finally Windows 3.1. To now with my i7 960 3.2Ghz, 12G ram with a few terrabytes of drives. Which is getting old in the tooth....

We've come a long way!

avatar

Shalbatana

It's great to hear that so many people look back on their c-64's with fond memories.

Me, I still enjoy mine. I've collected two others over the years as well. Though I think both of the monitors I have, have finally packed it in. I wonder if I can get them fixed anywhere without paying four legs and an arm?

avatar

jgrimoldy

Wow.

First PC was an Atari 400. Thankfully Antic magazine published a schematic so I was able to make my own full-stroke keyboard.

Ahhh so many hours spent typing basic source code for games published in Compute! magazine. Then saving to cassette tape. I loved me my Player/Missile graphics!

avatar

Scatter

My Atari 2600 got me into gaming but after reading the articles about these amazing new games called Zork and Wizardry in Electronic Games magazine I knew I needed to upgrade to a new computer. A year later I convinced my parents to get me an Apple IIc and I never looked back at consoles since.

avatar

Benjo

My very first machine was a Packard Bell Legend 2440 preloaded with Windows 95 and OEM crapware. I was 11 and I begged my dad to get it for $1600 new :S

- Pentium 75 Mhz
- 16 MB RAM in SIMM modules
- 1 GB hard drive
- 2 MB onboard graphics
- 4X CD-ROM drive
- 14.4K modem

I learned how to upgrade, (64 MB RAM, 4X CD burner, 18 GB hard drive, 200 Mhz proc, Windows 98, ethernet for networking/broadband) overclock, and other basic PC skills.

avatar

strangelove9

My first machine was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum, back in 1983... I absolutely loved it.

avatar

praack

first was the family's ti-994a - Bill Cosby sold that to the parents.
though strangly we had an old atari 2600 and i learned basic from a cartrigethat fit in that game system.

the ti was billed as a computer but we could not afford the additional parts.

later i purchased the commodore- along with a 1541, daisy wheel printer and just went from there- kept the thing until the world of 486x100 showed up- and even then only reluctantly gave up the world of C=64 and GEOS

got me through college a lot cheaper than PCs would

avatar

pastorbob

First PC was a Heathkit H-89 All-In-One, that I built from a kit in 1980. It came with a 2 Mhz Z80, 32K of RAM and an SSSD 5-1/4" floppy drive. I remember all of my co-workers had systems with tape drives. At the time I was the King of the Lab where I worked. :-) I later added a parallel port/RS-232 combo card, a DSQD interface and external enclosure with two drives and upgraded to a 4 Mhz Z-80 and 64K of RAM. A hard disk was out of the question since it cost about $3000 for a 10 Meg drive for this system. What made the system so neat was how easy it was to customize and improve it. Along with the Heath User's Group and all of the third party upgrades available it was a hardware hacker's dream machine. (In those days the term "hacker" meant something totally different).

The operating system was a proprietary one called HDOS but after a couple of years I bought CP/M for it. It was a challenge because every time you upgraded the hardware you had to modify the BIOS in 8080 Assembly language (it was a disk file) then reassemble it so the DOS could boot with the new hardware. One typo in the source code and your system could lock up tighter than a drum.

I bought a Tandy 1000 in 1986, but still used the Heath system until 1990 when I donated it to a non profit. I bought an Acer system in 1992 but since then I have custom built my systems.

avatar

Paul_Lilly

Everything about your post is totally rad.

avatar

pastorbob

Thank you Paul.

:-)

avatar

JeffieWasHere

My first computer was a Vic20. I don't remember many games, I do remember liking the graphics, and playing with that a lot.

I stepped up to a Commodore 64 at home, while using an Apple II and it's successors at school. The 64 was fun, and my game list (that I remember) includes Spy vs. Spy, Temple of Apshai, Some sort of F1 game, and when I found a spreadsheet program, I was hooked on having fun with numbers.

I had the non-Commodore disk drive that was a little faster. I believe it was the Enhancer 2000, but my memory is foggy here. Loved the 64, wish I had the money to get a clone for my MPC. Alas, it is not to be.

avatar

DoctorX

my first microcomputer (which is the proper term) was a ti 99-4a. cut my teeth programming with that one.

But before that,

I used several at school including:

trs-80
commodore pet
vic 20
commodore 64
Apple 2e

My 64 broke (orange juice incident) and got a 128.

I still have the 128 and yes it still works. I actually used it in college up until 1993 for school work.
here is the list of parts i still have:

c128
1351 3.5 floppy drive
2x 1571 floppy drives
4x 1541 floppy drives (3 works, one is for spare parts)
1381 dot matrix printer (which still works and can still buy the ribbons!)
blue chip daisy wheel printer (which also still works and can still buy the carts for it)
the cga monitor (still works)
tape drive
atari joysticks
280 floppies worth of software (amazingly, every one i tried still works)
smartcart for hooking up modern (at the time) external modems. I was dialing in to the university at 56k on my 128 and using a term program that allowed me to connect to the unix and vax systems.

First pc was a i386 running win3.1 that I bought from a white box company in 1993.

I have built all mine since. Only oem pc i have bought since was an asus eee netbook.

Gawd... hard to believe i have been working with PCs for 34 years. Yes I am old.

avatar

Juan Rivera

Ahh yes. The TI-994a. My first computer I ever had followed by the Apple IIe then the 286 clones.

My all time favorite fun at the time was playing with the BASIC Turtle programming language and Hunt the Wumpus. I always hear that song in my mind. :)

avatar

SSquirrel

My dad had an Apple //e when I was 6, but it wasnt' long before it got commandeered by my step-mom and taken to work at the vet clinic. My stepdad bought us a 286 a couple of years later and that was the system I used at home all the way thru high school.

BTW, when MS releases the Surface later this year and demands analysts start counting it as PC sales and the iPad starts getting counted in PC sales, the C64's record will evaporate.

avatar

rwpritchett

"Jordon vs. Bird"? If I remember correctly, it was actually "Dr. J vs. Bird". I had that one.

Some of my other C64 favorites from my childhood:

Bard's Tale II & III
Hardball
Track n' Field
Test Drive I & II
Dungeons & Dragons: Pool of Radiance
Loderunner
Spy vs Spy
Archon
Gauntlet
International Karate+

Ahhh... good memories...

avatar

Paul_Lilly

There was also a Dr. J vs Larry Bird, but I had the Jordan vs Bird title. It had better graphics (on the C64) and was more my time.

avatar

DoctorX

i loved bards tale... i had to buy it when it was redone on the pc a few years ago. I spent probably 1000s of hours exploring bard's tale. It was actually much better than what was ported to the others at the time.

Archon for the win.

avatar

rwpritchett

I see that they re-made Archon and it's available on Steam. I think I'm going to pick that one up.

Nothing sucks more than having your shapeshifter attacked by a knight pawn on a light square!

avatar

John Pombrio

Ah, it was Microsoft Flight Simulator for me as the defining game on the Commodore 64. The hours I spent. Then there was Montezuma's Revenge, the 2nd computer game I ever finished (after Colossal Cave). Let's don't forget Zork.
Hmm, first PC? Since I worked for HP at the time, I had access to a wide variety of machines that I could take home "for study" HP 150, HP 85, even a Z80 microprocessor kit to let me program in hex to light up some 8 segment LEDs.
Trash 80, C64, a Sinclair Z80 kit (anyone remember that POS), then a leftover 486 machine from work started my PC path. I also had the technical manual for the Colecovision that the engineers at the company slipped to me so did some programming on it too.
I have never bought a readymade PC and only one Dell laptop (for my son). I also have never bought a single thing made by Apple. I have only bought HP printers for the past 20 years.

avatar

Steelwells

My first computer was a Tandy Color Computer II, followed up shortly after by a Color Computer III. I had a tape drive initially, but upgraded the CoCoIII to a 5.25" floppy and paid $385 for a 512k RAM upgrade (the first time I opened a computer and installed something).

But I was hooked.

After that? A cobbled together from parts 486 from a friend's dad's tech company, then a Packard Bell with a Pentium 66, a Pentium II @ 300, then a few P3's. And the list goes on...

avatar

MrHasselblad

Some of my first computers...

In addition to the C64 - I really liked the Tandy (without flipscreen) laptops that had the lcd displays. I'll also never quite forget paying over 5k in the 80's for a Tandy 4000. One thing I'll never miss is the phone bills; but publications such as 2600 sure helped with that one.

Imagine how much different things will be in another 30? A future with over 128G of RAM, some version of mass TB drives, and communications might all be wireless in the GB range

avatar

wumpus

Atari 400 here. Similar to the C64 (but two years earlier), but with an untouchtypeable keyboard.

Can any C64 users explain why the floppy drive/controller was so notorious? Floppy drives on the Atari were crippled by a 9600 baud serial interface, yet C64 were said to be even slower. Note that after Compute magazine released a firmwareish upgrade to crank up cassette speeds, this may have left users wondering why they were shelling out big bucks for a floppy drive (not kidding about the cost). Also had I still been using the cassette drive on the 400, I would have been desperately jealous about the new, improved cassette speed.

avatar

chiroho

My first PC was a VIC 20, which preceded the Commodore 64. Managed to stay with that for a few years, and then was able to jump to an Amiga 1000. Loved both those devices though.

avatar

cyberfalco

I never owned a Commodore. My father's work used Apple so we had an Apple II+. Then an Apple IIc. Then the office moved over to Windows so we had a NEC 386DX-33. I had that PC until I was able to build my own. My first build was a 486DX2-66.

avatar

sotoa

The Commodore 64 was my very first PC. I spent so much time on that thing! Then I had to get the tape drive. Then came the floppy disk drive! Oh the memories...
Then when it broke, I went with the Commodore 128. This allowed me to play Ultima 5 with extra features that the C64 didn't have (like full sound & music).
Fun times!

avatar

ultrapain

No doubt! Remember how studly you were if you had TWO floppy drives (each the size of an entire mini-ITX rig)? Then if you could rock the 9600 baud modem to hit the BBS's! My first computer was a C64 and it will always have a special place in my heart. I LOVED playing MISL soccer, and EA had a racing game which had a track designed as well, but the name escapes me. Those were the days...

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.