Fun:Commodore 64

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Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 was a computer produced by Commodore Business Machines from 1982 to 1990. It was the most freaking awesome computer ever. You could play video games all day like Choplifter, Jumpman, Ultima IV, and the immortal Impossible Mission. Commodore then did a stupid and abruptly cancelled manufacture of both the 64 and its would-be successor the 65 in 1990, and its other would-be successor the 128 the previous year in 1989, in favor of putting all their effort into the Commodore Amiga. The Amiga was supposed to compete with the IBM PC and Macintosh. Fatal flaw: the Amiga had no back-compatibility whatsoever with the 64, which until that time had been the best-selling home computer ever. The rest, as they say, is history; Commodore filed bankruptcy in 1994 and never recovered.

Some totally awesome things about the Commodore 64:

  • The country of origin label on the back: "MADE IN USA". How many computers today can honestly say that? (mine said "MADE IN GERMANY")
  • C-64 emulators and all the old classic games are easily available on the Internet for free, and the emulators surprisingly work great.
  • The C-64 could handle tail recursion. Pretty smart little computer, not even the Apple II could do that.
  • Lots of fun tricks you could do with PEEKs and POKEs. One of which was to walk up to the C-64 on display at the local Kmart, type in a quick program that flashed a rapidly changing multicolored "FUCK YOU" on the screen, then walk off and try to keep from cracking up hysterically while you watch the not-too-computer-literate Kmart clerk try to figure out how to stop the program. I somehow remember the number 53287 in this context, which I think was one of the POKEs.
  • C-64 BASIC had a notoriously obfuscated syntax for some functions.
  • Noisiest. Disk drive. Ever.
  • POKE and PEEK...whoever thought those names up had a sense of humor probably inspired by Larry Flynt. Seriously.
  • "Another visitor. Stay awhile. STAY FOREVER!"
  • Yes, there is a UNIX Linux "Lunix" distribution available for the C-64. You will not believe it until you run it yourself and type in "top" at the command line and see for yourself.
  • Even better, there are people out there even today developing, get this, ethernet cards for that old C-64. PBS should start a series: "This Old Commodore 64". It would probably be a big hit.
  • The Commodore 64 Programmers Reference Guide. This spiral bound book was well worth the money because it was where you could figure out all sorts of interesting PEEKs and POKEs, such as those one might theoretically use for writing (ahem) a (cough cough) "war dialer", not that anyone around here would ever do such a thing or even know what a "war dialer" is.
  • Telenet. Tymnet. Compuserve Information Service. The Compuserve "CB" which was just like IRC. Squeezing as high as a lightning-fast 2400 baud connection out of your computer with the help of a VIC-20 RS-232 adapter.
  • Many freaking awesome ham radio related peripherals were made specifically for the C-64 and sold through such magazines as the freaking awesome Popular Communications (which was also up to its neck in articles about pirate radio, mercenaries, geolocating the CIA's secret spy numbers stations in Virginia, the latest antics of those fun-lovin' ship to shore telegraph operators goofing off who all since lost their jobs no thanks to the Internet, exposes of the sordid side of radio history (Father Coughlin, CIA intrigues on Swan Island, et al), where to buy freaking awesome night vision gear, drug smugglers and Cuban exiles in Miami, and did I mention pirate radio?) But I digress. For the purposes of this article all you need to know is it was a freaking awesome place to find advertisements for freaking awesome ham radio peripherals for your freaking awesome Commodore 64.

You know what scares the hell out of me? These kids who are seniors in high school and freshmen in college right now? They hadn't even been born yet when the Commodore 64 was discontinued! That is the fact that keeps me awake at night. It's no fucking wonder we have crap like Harry Potter polluting our culture, the obvious reason why is because we no longer have the Commodore 64 to inspire our young adults to excellence.

King James Only? Hell no. Commodore 64 Only! There is a religious fundamentalism I could really get behind. Kneel now before the One True Computer, sinner.

I haz an Adam? I haz tapes?