The Commodore 64 was, at one point, the best-selling single (non Japanese
) computer system of all time, with 17 million sold.note
It was released in 1982 as a low-end computer comparable to the Apple ][
and the Atari 8-Bit Computers
, following on their earlier VIC-20
system. It was as cheap as the Atari 2600
and is, paradoxically, considered one of the finest personal computing devices ever built... and partially to blame for The Great Video Game Crash of 1983
The system was remarkably powerful for the price. The original design was for an Arcade Game
board, and the C64 therefore had unusually good color graphics, sprite support, and sound compared to its competitors. It also had an operating system contained entirely in ROM, meaning that there was close to nothing (shy of physically damaging the hardware) that could corrupt the system, making it a hacker's dream machine. There was even a windowed operating environment with desktop publishing abilities available for it (GEOS), and some code genius even figured out how to do multitasking on it. It was also home of the Quantum Link online service, operated by the company that would become AOL.
However, the success of the Commodore 64 was also its downfall. Commodore couldn't discontinue it due to high demand in Europe, and most people in North America had moved on to the Nintendo Entertainment System
for their gaming needs and the PC
clones flooding the market for general computing by 1990. The C64's success also doomed every other Commodore 8-bit project, such as the MAX machine, the Educator 64, the C16, the Plus/4, the C128, the C64 Games System, and the C65.
The Commodore 64 was eventually discontinued in April 1994, when the company went bankrupt due to the now dated parts of the system being more expensive than what people paid for it. This is essentially what happens when Artistic License - Economics
happens in Real Life
. However, in April 2011, Commodore announced a brand revival
and is currently accepting preorders for new C64s. The new systems essentially combine the classic design with modern internals; they run the original C64 BIOS and present-day software.
Nowadays, Commodore 64 games are now being released for the Wii
's Virtual Console
. It's also one of the most popular platforms for the Demoscene
. And a generation has learned to associate Bach's "Invention #13"
with this system.
And now it's available
as an app for iOS
Has its own YMMV page
- CPU: MOS 6510 (a modified 6502), ~1 MHz
- GPU: MOS VIC-II
- Sound: MOS SID
- 160x200 or 320x200 bitmap graphics, 40x25 character graphics
- 16 colors
- 8 sprites per scanline
- Hardware scrolling
- 3 oscillators: Saw, triangle, square, and noise waveforms, 8 octave range, programmable envelopes
- High-pass, band-pass, and low-pass filters
- Ring modulators
Tropes associated with the Commodore 64:
- Broken Record: Try this command:
10 PRINT "TV TROPES";
20 GOTO 10
- Covers Always Lie: If a game was also released for the vastly more advanced Amiga, screenshots on the box would inevitably be from that version.
- Fridge Brilliance: Computer viruses had begun to be a problem by the mid-80s. Because of its ROM-based system software and Commodore's decision to offload disk handling to the floppy drives, it was all but impossible to write a C64 virus.
- Gone Horribly Right: The computer was so popular, Commodore couldn't cancel it, even after the disk drive became more expensive to manufacture than the C64 itself.
- Loads and Loads of Loading: The 1541 disk drive was notoriously slow. Just be grateful you didn't have to use a tape drive.
- Long Runner: Was sold from 1982 to 1994.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: the C-One computer (originally designed as a C64 clone by the self-trained Jeri Ellsworth), as well as the VICE emulator (the latter being the only way most people will ever be able to use the C65).
- Spiritual Successor: The brand is active again, but with modern components like an Intel Atom processor.
- The Moral Substitute: Like many other computer companies in The Eighties, Commodore marketed the C64 as an educational alternative to evil, brain-draining video game consoles that would wreck parents' dreams of their kids getting into college. Subverted: the machine actually had lots of great games, as the list below shows.
- Tonka Tough: The operating system was in ROM, making it virtually impossible to corrupt.
- Averted by the C1541 floppy drive which could go out of alignment with a funny look. Every 1541 owner ever knows the "BRAAAAAP" noise of a misaligned drive.
- What Could Have Been: the C65 (a few prototypes of which got out into public hands when CBM was liquidated) was a huge step forward, but it still was only 8 bit, although it outperformed many 16-bit computers graphically. Also the parent company focused more on the Amiga system and the IBM PC clones.
Original titles and Multi-Platform games that started here: