Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum

Commodore 64

Commodore 64

Speed1 MHz
Memory64 KB

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Commodore

Commodore 64

Release Date: 1/1/1982
Manufacturer: Commodore
Original Retail Price:
Adjusted Inflation Price:
$599.00
$1,482.16*
 
To date, this machine has sold over 30 million units, making it the single most successful computer of all time. The 64 was the successor of the VIC-20 and in North America, was expected to sell primarily with a cassette drive for storage. The disk drive (1541) was expensive but people preferred the speed and the drive sold in equally staggering numbers (in the UK, tape still ruled because of the lower cost). The C64 sold for over 11 years making it the most prolific computing device ever manufactured. Running a 1MHz 6510 processor, the 64 also had a great audio chip (called SID) that made games and music software very popular on the system.

Check out the audio link which plays "Daisy Bell" featured in the Commodore 64 demo by Broken Limits. The tune is actually composed using the mechanics of the 1541 disk drive.

 

There is some additional information available about this computer.

 

This computer is currently interactive in the Museum.
 

Commodore 1541 Disk Drive

Commodore 1541 Disk Drive
Release Date: 1/1/1982
 
Original Retail Price: $399.95
 
The Commodore 1541 was the most popular disk drive manufactured for the Commodore 64. It was the successor to the 1540 drive (intended for the VIC-20) and actually was a small computer in itself. The DOS (Disk Operating System) resides inside the 1541 and it actually contains a MOS 6502 processor (essentially the same processor inside the C64 itself).

The disk drive used Group Code Recording (GCR). The number of sectors per track varied from 17 to 21 (an early implementation of Zone Bit Recording). The drive's built-in disk operating system was CBM DOS 2.6.

The drive has been criticized as being extremely slow, for reasons that are explained in the book On the Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore by Brian Bagnall.

The capacity of the drive is 170 KB per side and it was common for the drive to go out of alignment. The speed problem was partially addressed by a bunch of different "fast load" cartridges and software solutions, with the Epyx Fast Load being the most popular.


User Comments
Anonymous on Friday, August 14, 2015
One of my favorite computers of all-time. Dubbed "Apple II killer" by Jack Trammiel as his specification requirement was for a low-cost 64Kb computer, 40-column text with color and built-in keyboard that could be easily hooked up to standard NTSC TV like Apple II+ in America. Some ideas were expanded upon from Atari 8-bit computers such as a dedicated 'sprite' graphics chip in C64 as "VIC-II (Video Interface Chip II)" and audio chip as C64 "SID (Sound Interface Device)". Both made the computer legendary in demo-scene and early musicians. Cheapest Commodore 64s substituted disk drive for a slower cassette drive and TV could be used as a monitor via built-in RF modulator. The biggest drawbacks I encountered of first Model 1541 5.25" floppy disk drives was heads frequently going out of alignment later models remedied this, overheating was also common and weirdest decision to use a serial cable over a single wire (not two in parallel) for data transfers made for slow drives, thankfully Epyx Fastloader helped ease that pain. Improved Commodore 64C was the best C64 ever!
Branko on Thursday, May 30, 2013
I bought one in January 1985 from the PX. The 64 was $299.00 as I recall. I then bought the monitor, disk drive, datasett, printer, and related cables. I used it at work, I was a supply sergeant at the time, and did inventory reports and correspondence within the unit. I used it for four years when at that time I was given an old CPM machine that came out of Ft Harrison. The only problem I had with the computer was he disk drive broke while under warranty. I purchased a program called Side Ways that changed the print layout from portrait to landscape so you could print 80 columns. It was recommended to use four 38 special cases to raise the disk drive off the surface of your desk to allow better cooling. It was also recommended to super glue a piece of alumn pop can on the chip to act as a heat sink. Both recommendations worked. I had several games on disk and ram cartridge. My three favorite were Aliens, Gunship 2000, and Super Huey. I had purchased separate joy sticks that looked like the later issued flight control ticks. On all three the action was fast, the game images were lacking, but were comparable to games of their day. All in all the Commodore 64 was a great first computer. I still have mine in storage somewhere in the basement. Oh, the computer dealer that worked on my disk drive had an almost new 64 for sale a few years ago. Included the original box. He specialized in Commodore and Amiga computers when everyone else was pushing early IBM and Compac.
Ross on Saturday, November 26, 2011
How good was Elite as well; loved that game - played a million hours of that one. And Bards tale - dug that.
frank on Saturday, March 26, 2011
i just picked one of these systems up at a yard sale.It had everything but the screen .I want to know how much they are going for with out the screen?And how much is it worth with the screen
SS on Saturday, January 08, 2011
I somehow discovered that you can use a Sega Genesis controller as a gamepad for this glorious machine. The d-pad works great, but the rest of the buttons all do the exact same thing (which is odd, I'd have thought only one of them would have worked). Curiosity got the best of me, and the joystick for this does work on a Sega Genesis, though the button only operates the B button if I remember correctly. The game pad made playing California Games (at least the first half, since the other disc was chewed up) an interesting experience.
Prithi on Saturday, October 09, 2010
I loved Ultima III and IV on this machine, along with the Bard's Tale series and all the other games mentioned by previous posters. Maybe you could post a bit of info on this site on legal emulator options and game collections? ...would be another way to keep the spirit of these old machines alive. Thanks for the site and museum!
GW7AAV-Steve on Saturday, March 20, 2010
My next door neighbour had a Vic-20 and I used to go around and play the Scott Adams adventures on it. I bought one of the first C64s in our area. On the day they arrived in the shops they were snapped up in an hour, mainly by Vic owners wanting to up-grade. At first there were was no software and I spent thousands of hours typing in games from listings in magazines. Later when I became a radio amateur I had six C64s. One was running as a bulletin board on packet radio, one was running as a rotator controller were I just typed the in callsign or locator and the beam turned to point at the station I was calling, another was either running my electronic log or being used for word processing, the forth was used for graphics and video titling and the last two for the family to play games on. Best game I ever typed in was called "Night Fighter" and my favourite bought games were the Zork adventures, Arkanoid, The Pawn and The Guild of Thieves. I eventually wrote a few bits of software myself and I even had one called "HamCalcs" that came back to me on a magazine cover disk of public domain programs. Best of luck with the collection.
CE3DWJ Rolf on Saturday, February 20, 2010
I entered computing as an Ham. My first Machine was an Vic-20. With this machine and a suitable interface I was able to make fine contacts via RTTY. Then I bought Commodore C-64, with this equipment I run the first BBS on VHF and HF in Chile for about 2 years. After this I graded up to the c-128 and then to the PC-10. How many hours of work and satisfactions with this equipment. I also worked with PET machines at ofice. 73 and DX's
Kaveh on Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I still have very fond memories of playing Jump Man Jr and Spy vs Spy on the 64.
Joe K, ON on Friday, January 09, 2009
Wasn't the old ad on TV saying something like "I adore my 64, my commodore 64."
Jeff Robbins on Saturday, July 21, 2007
Couldn't wait every month for the next issue of Compute! so I could have new programs to type in and use! Still have a complete 64 in the basement. Of course, it hasn't been turned on in years, so I have no idea if it is still alive.
James Alexander on Wednesday, July 18, 2007
One of my first computers also. 1983 and 84 saw an original brown C64 (and atari 600xl) come into my home. Like many of that era, had a paper route to afford the computer. Bought it with with datasette and connected to a little tv. Spent many hours over the summer programming in basic on these machines including many programs from books & magazines
David Slater on Friday, May 18, 2007
Just found this website in the last week or so. Can't believe it has been so long since I had the C64 running none stop, juiced up to the max with the ZIP CHIP, the 256K RAM DRIVE, 3-1/2" and 5-1/4 drives, and GEOS, so I could create the newsletter for the WOODSTOCK COMMODORE USER CLUB! Checking in on the local bulliten board HALEY'S COMMENT. Running up a $100 per month long distance phone bill using my 300 baud modem to call Virginia thru DATA LINK. WOW! And when I saw the C64 on display at SCIENCE NORTH in Sudbury, I really felt old. I'll have to dig it out of the original boxes sometime, and set it back up just for fun. Hope to visit the museum some time too! Thanks for the memorys!
Brad Ryan on Monday, May 07, 2007
This was the greatest computer ever built and although I have upgraded through the years to an Amiga 2000, then to a 486 , then a Pentium 1 , an athlon 2600, and soon a Core 2 Duo E6600, No computer ever has been as special or exciting to me as the C64. I remember writing games for this machine, researching Basic ( poke, peek, print, goto etc) learning assembler ( LDA , ROL, etc ) and memory adresses ( 32768 , 49152) I forget the name of the magazine that I used to read that was always current about the C64, but I wrote a utility and sent it in to them for publishing. I am now a High School Computer teacher and often tell my students about this computer but it is very hard to have them understand what such an antiquated machine meant to me and why it was great, given that it is so "Lame" compared to what a computer can do for us today. I remember one night staying up all night with my brothers playing Sammy lightfoot, and figuring out all of the levels, or playing Loadrunner for hours and then getting caught inside a window and not being able to escape. I even had the custom Commodore desk that had the spot for the 1541 floppy drive on the side. I took this computer to Queens with me in 1985 and played tons of games with my classmates in teacher's college. Several years ago my wife's school threw away about 30 sets of monitors and c64's including some c128's. By that time I had the emulating software that can run c64 stuff on a PC and thought why keep any of them ( I regret that one a bit ). None of the fancy games of today have ever interested me as much as games like ( Loadrunner, Frantic Freddie, Summer Games, Sammy Lightfoot, Jumpman, BeachHead, Archon, Double Dragon, Moon Patrol, Raid over Moscow, etc ). I could go on and on ... what a great computer. Brad Ryan Computer Teacher
Jason Gambacort on Sunday, October 01, 2006
This was my first machine, as I'm sure it was for many people. The first game I ever played on the 64 was Lemonade, and the first game to drop my jaw was Summer Games by Epyx. Soon after I joined the BBS revolution and ran my own board, Private Heaven II with custom software written by Syd Bolton. To my knowledge, it was the only BBS running on a 64 in Brant County. Loads of fun... what a great machine!
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* Inflation data courtesy of www.inflationdata.com. Values are approximate using our own calculations.