24 March, 2010

Commonwhore Reborn!

I guess it's really true - what goes around, comes around.

Can you believe it? the Commodore 64 is being re-introduced - well, sort of. Really, about all the new one has in common with the old is the name. The new one seems to be just an all in one conventional PC, running Ubuntu or Windows-7. You can read more about it and see a picture of it at (

The Commodore I had was an SX-64, also known as the Executive 64, was a 'portable', briefcase/suitcase-size 'luggable' version of the Commodore 64 home computer. It was the first full-color portable computer.

This dream machine featured a built-in five-inch monitor and a built-in single-sided floppy drive. It weighed 23 pounds and was carried by its handle, which did double duty as an adjustable stand. It was announced in January 1983 and released a year later, which is about when I purchased mine for around $950 USD.

The '64 was the first PC I owned. I had used main frames as a student at university, using time-share and teletypes. My next PCs were Radio Shack Model III and then a Model IV.

The best thing I remember about the Commodore was playing 'Sub Search', one of the most realistic games I ever saw for computers. You commanded a WWII submarine and could cruise virtually the whole Western Pacific and fight the Japanese navy - all on a single-sided 5-1/4" diskette to boot.

Super Huey and Super Huey II were also a couple of intense games that gave a pretty good feeling for how complex it must be to actually fly a helicopter.

Ah, the good old days, when elegant programming ruled. It was always amazing what you could pack into such a simple machine.


Fuego negro said...

A Commodore 64! That was already a big machine!

My first computer was a Sinclair Spectrum ZX with a Ram memory of 16kB. It had no screen and you had to connect it to the TV.

Dave Rider said...

I remember those. I almost bought a Timex Sinclair 1000, I think it was - the one with the 'Chiclet' keyboard. But then I woke up.

sandy a said...

I remember going with my Dad to the "computer building" at Ohio University (i grew up in Athens, Ohio)in the early 70's. Huge machines, card sorters, etc. But it was cutting-edge technology back then!

Dave Rider said...

Hi Sandy,

Hollerith cards - ah, fond memories of waiting my turn to run my project, only to find another error. The only thing that made it worse was it was for a statistical course using SPSS on the main frame. I hated it!
This was in the early- to mid-eighties.

LT said...

Man nice blog, love the shirt and also have to say I had a 64 too. lol loved the game where you could be in the meadow, go into the forest and cut down the tree, before you do climb it to get the key you will need once you go into the stump. lol oh yeah brings back a memory or two from the early 80's lol See you all down there soon.

Anonymous said...

I remember them all too. My first job was preparing the cards to go into the Board of Education computer so that students marks could be printed on reports. Never knew the name for the cards before I read this.
By the way, Denis just pointed out to me that we now appear on your sign in log as Turtleford (Sask) Canada.

Dave Rider said...

LT - Shirt? Did I miss something?

Anonymous - Turtleford, Sask? Why that looks about as big as Tofield. I have no idea why it's showing Turtleford. I don't have any control (I don't think so anyway) over that part.
Say hi to Denis and hurry back.


Liberating Recycling Leaders - LRL said...

Wow Dave, what a walk down memory lane reading about the ol' Commodore 64. I remember all those early cutting technologies we used thinking this was the way things will be, only to have newer and newer technologies come out.
I remember working at AT&T in the '80's when we finally got email. How clunky it was to write just one email!
Thanks for the memories.

Dave Rider said...

Hi Harry,
I remember that time too. I had a bit of a challenge understanding what email would do for me... I think until I actually got an answer. Then it was, "Wow! Too cool!"

I also remember the first time I saw a copy machine. While I was in the Navy. We had a couple of stinky mimeo machines, but when we got our first copier. A couple dozen or so sailors lined up outside the ship's office to wait their turn to see this miracle.
You placed the original in a lithograph-type dotted screen holder made of flexible plastic, then fed it into the machine. About a minute later, out came your one copy. I think it was on thermal paper too. It was almost science fiction in action. Not quite, cause you still had to have everything in triplicate - at least, so carbon paper and mimeos were still way faster.

Don't get me started about my first modem - all of 300 baud. It sucked even then, but it was better than nothing.