“Are you keeping up with the Commodore? Because the Commodore is keeping up with you.” – the famous jingle from the 1980’s TV advertisements for the C64 is still stuck in my head. As it turned out, millions of computer gamers were keeping up with the jewel in Commodore’s crown.
The affinity we have with the C64 spans more than three decades. It has seen us grow from that awkward shy kid to a charismatic adult (well, for most of us!).
The trusty 8-bit from Commodore was released on this day (August 9, 1982) at a cost of $595 (almost $1500 in today’s money!). What you got for this price was “A computer that’s light years ahead of its competition”. At the time, the C64 was pitched as an office computer, which threw it up against the likes of the Apple II+ ($1530), IBM PC ($1565), Tandy TRS-80 III ($999) and Atari 800 ($899) computers. With hindsight, we know that the C64’s success came from those budding kids coding and playing the latest video games in their bedroom – I should know, I was one of those kids.
The C64 went through a number of hardware and cosmetic revisions, with the original breadbox being our sentimental favourite. The C64 enjoyed a fruitful existance, but with the emergence of the 16-bit era, the end was nigh for the brown/beige Commodore – the C64 was officially discontinued in 1994.
Everyone’s memory of the C64 is filled with fondness. The C64 had the power to lure you to it and use it – especially for gaming! It also kickstarted a lot of coding and music / chiptune maestro careers. The C64’s rivalry with Amstrad and Spectrum were (still are) legendary, with school-yards becoming the arguing battlegrounds. Just for the record, the C64 was and still is the king!
The C64 will forever be remembered for the joy and fun it brought to the masses, myself included. The C64 still remains in use in our household with the view to passing it on to the next generation to enjoy and appreciate. Long live the C64!
For those of you keen to know what was under the hood of the C64, read on:
Microprocessor: MOS 6510 – a beefed up 6502 with additional input/output lines
- RAM: 64K
- ROM: 20K (containing the OS and Commodore BASIC language)
Keyboard: Full size typewriter style with 66 keys
Display: VIC-II chip
- 40 columns x 25 lines;
- 16 colours;
- 320 x 200 pixels;
- TV out (RF)
Sound: 6581 Sound Interface Device (SID) chip
- 3 independent voice
- 9 octaves
- 4 waveforms (sawtooth, triangle, variable pulse and noise)
- Programmable ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) generator
- 2 x Joystick ports
- Cartridge (ROM) port
- TV Out (RF)
- Digitial Tape
- GPIO/RS-232 (Serial)