C64 by Commodore – my first computer
My very first computer, not only used but also owned, was a C64 in a breadbin case. It came with an 1541-II, a huge (at least for me back then, 2 or 3 boxes) set of disks and some joysticks. Many of the disks being diskmags, coverdisks and of course „backup copies“ (in fact, I haven’t seen an original C64 floppy or tape in person to this day – unlike for the Amiga 500).
Some of the details laid out in this post where already included in my very first websites. But I’m pretty certain all traces of them are gone by now :D.
(Note: the „censorship rules“ from this post also apply here)
My legacy with the C64
The exact year when I got the C64 is lost in time, but it was while I was in elementary school. So it was most likely 1992 or 1993, maybe even 1994. For sure it was for Christmas.
I originally wished for one of these V-Tech child computers. But my mom asked if I would like to have a real computer instead, thinking it would provide more value for my future (I assume).
Of course I expected a PC at that time, in fact: PCs (and consoles) was all I had known up to that point. But my mom was a single mom and children are expensive (as I know by now ;D). So she got an used C64 set from a workmate. Even if I never had heard of Commodore up to that point, I had my own f*cking computer! Though I still needed the living room TV for it since I had no monitor. This was a revolution for me. And also the start of many skipped school classes.
Why the Commodore left a mark on me
When I discovered the potential I had at my hands, trying game after game, reading the manual and doing the first steps in BASIC I quickly started to really like the C64. „Teacher Busters“ was also always a welcome afternoon distraction when you got annoyed in school again (Hint: nothing prevents you entering class mates as teacher names). Good old times, sniff.
And yes, back then people actually did read computer manuals. There was barely any internet and none for me for sure, at that time Teletext was still like magic for me.
In the manual I also found the very first program „I’ve created“ (read: typed in, reading from the manual) and the second one. And yes, of course the second one was „10 PRINT „TOBIAS WAR HIER“ 20 GOTO 10″.
In hindsight I would say it was one of the best things my mother ever did for me, maybe even the best. The breadbin started my interest in computers, and programming – though I would realize that only decades later. By now I think it was good to start with a 8-bit system instead of a PC.
Since you’re nearer to the system, there are no drivers, no EMS/XMS, no software until you create or load it etc. it’s easier to understand the system. Hard to find words for it, esp. since English is not my primary language. People who experienced it will understand :-D.
So, thanks mom! I think I already told you this, but if not – here we go ;-). You tried to fulfill my wishes with the few money you had and managed to start my career by that (and another thing I will reveal in another post).
What happened to it?
Like almost everyone I sold of the breadbin some years later. Pretty sure it was way before I got another computer. But back then I thought I was done with it and wanted cash. Think I got like 20DM back then, which would be like 7,50€ or something like that today.
My current C64 setup
Some years ago I’ve finally found another C64 set in worthy condition and size of the lot to be purchased. It was a C64c, also known as „the wedge“, instead of a breadbin. Also it had an 1571 instead of af 1541-II, but I would consider that a welcome upgrade. It also came with 3 or 4 joysticks, some of them broken, and a Amiga Tankmouse for whatever reason. Also included was a 1530 Datasette (which I didn’t had back then). Maybe sounds stupid, but the best thing about it was the original dust cover – covered in stickers from back then. Also included were manuals for the Commodore and the Datasette. So it was a perfect set to start my collection.
It worked fine and I had quite some fun with it. So I also got an 1541-UltimateII+ for it, which is the only cartridge you will ever need these days. But at some point the C64 started to bork around, not starting up. If that happened it just stayed in „black screen with white line at the left border“.
I have neither replacement parts nor equipment to properly diagnose and fix it. Also it’s for sure that everything still working now will break at some point. Let’s be honest, that stuff is almost 40 years old by now.
So it was time to order a replacement motherboard with chips. But should I get a another Commodore that will need maintenance and maybe still fail at some point or some modern replacement? The choice was pretty obvious for me – a modern replacement it shall be. But here we are at the next problem, WHICH replacement? There are quite some choices these days.
I’ve decided to get the Ultimate 64 Elite since I was REALLY impressed by the 1541-UltimateII+ and it is the next step from the same creator. It has some very nice features like HDMI, ZIF sockets for SIDs, Ethernet, Modem Emulation, in theory WiFi too but that’s not enabled in FW (yet) and everything the 1541-Ultimate2+ has. It’s now set up in the C64c case.
I’ve also requested an autograph from the creator while ordering the Ultimate64, which he kindly included. He even put multiple in the package, so one is now taped to the dust cover and another one on the wall. It’s a nice addition to the decoration. And yes, I’m so amazed by his products that I really wanted to have an autograph to tape on the cover :-D. As a developer myself I admire the work Gideon puts into his products.
The KERNAL I use is a „modified“ JiffyDOS. Modified like in: set colors and replaced main screen titles. Also the Ultimate is configured with an 16MB REU. For what? Barely any clue – but I can, so I do :D. The only use I had for it so far was watching movies. Not exactly a realistic use case.
Audio & Video
For sound authenticity I’ve transplanted the SID from my „not broken but annoying“ board onto it. But I’m using the emulated SIDs, too – for multi-sid tunes. Audio is routed via HDMI to the TV and from there to the audio switch.
On the video side of things I’m using the HDMI output of the Ultimate64. But I also have the analog output connected via a SCART Adapter that ends in the SCART switch. Not that I would have ever used it again after the initial comparison versus HDMI, but since I already had everything for it set up – why remove it.
I’ve got multiple joysticks from back then when I purchased the C64c set, but I am using only a QuickShot Pro as 2nd player joystick from these. My main joystick is a Deluxe Mini Monster, really nice stick – big recommendation.
These two are also used for the Amiga 500 and the *CENSORED*. Sadly I got no mouse for it. But I have no use for a mouse yet and didn’t had one back then, too. So that’s fine for now.
What I am using it for – except nostalgia
Mainly gaming, either alone or with my kids. Sometimes my kids also like to play on it alone. In example my youngest daughter loved Giana Sisters and played through it over one weekend (with trainer enabled). But also watching demos and playing SIDs – esp. multi-sid-tunes since the builtin audio player of the Ultimate auto-configures the SIDs according to the tune which makes it really easy to enjoy them. For the sake of trying I also watched movie snippets (called Nuvies) on it, which is only possible because of the 16MB REU and the video is pre-rendered on another system and packaged into a REU file.
The next thing I want to do is connecting to some BBS and dabbling around since I never had the chance back then when it was a thing. I also still need to checkout GEOS. And who knows what else is still out there that I never tried…
One could say, I am keeping up with the Commodore, because the Commodore is keeping up with me ;-D.