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A C64 from 1984. Last year I dug it out of storage along with a 1541 drive. Couldn't find the power supply. It hadn't been used since about 1991. I built a power supply from scratch along with a custom power cable, recapped all electrolytics and tested the 2 voltage regulators out of circuit (and they were bad) - wound up replacing those. After all that, it did not work... at first ... black screen. I was able to troubleshoot it and determined that the PLA was bad. I replaced the PLA (found a pulled chip on fleaBay) and it fired up and worked fine including video, audio, logic. I then restored the 1541 drive (which still had a disk in while in storage all those years) and it too worked including that disk I just mentioned. I had a supply of old 5.25 disks but most did not work but I was able to get about 15% of them to load! I bought a joystick for it and I played some old retro games. Pretty cool to use the old computer that got me started when I was a kid in the 80s.
My first 'c64' was a home built s100 bus system using a z80 processor with 4K of RAM. There was no programming language, just a monitor program that fit into a 2K ROM (was named Zapple). With the monitor program I could peek/poke memory, dump memory, execute from a specified location and insert break points. I built this system during my last year of college (electrical engineering, 1978). I basically learned the z80 instruction set by the numbers. Over the years, the system grew until it had 64K or RAM, dual 8 in floppy drives (dual density!!) and ran the CP/M OS. I kept the system until I could buy an Amiga.
Those were fun days, learning to program with the z80 machine code, designing/building boards for the system (serial port board, votrax based speech board and a driver board for a selectric printer mechanizm).
* Was that really that good?
* What was so good (or bad) about it?
* Do we have it somewhere today?
* What is/was your C64?
"Goodness" fell more in an eye of the beholder scenario. Compatibility between platforms wasn't a mandate so every competitors offering had their own engineering go wild at times.
The Commodore line was really good at graphics and sound. Lots of games took advantage of that.
Tandy CoCos were not good on graphics and sound as the Commodire but flew circles around many others with its BASIC... add an RTOS (Microware's OS9) and the CoCo blew everybody else on the computing prowess department no contest.
Apple was... well, Apple! The Woz in all effect pre-Mac days
Atari was also very good on graphics, somewhat good on sound. A you-can't-lose way to go on the 8 bits machines line. The Atari ST upped the stakes later on but by then everybody was on IBM mode.
Texas Instuments TI 99/4A its an oddity but an interesting one, half way in graphics and sound capabilities, not too good on its BASIC and expansion capabilities.
Of all these I have a few, still work on them, repair, retrofit and soup up where possible. It's a fun way to deflate from the day to day modern hardware and software woes.
I started late on the Commodore, my start was with Tandy's TRS-80 line and the Color Computer series. My latest addition is a replica I assembled of the Jupiter Ace.
RadioShack TRS80 with 16K Ram and a dual Tape drive that was bi-directional so loading and saving files was pretty fast. From there to the Atari 800 where I wrote the first Point of Sale program for my store.
I have liked it very much, learned a lot of things later useful about design and programming.
It had very good user's manual, written for teaching programming.
It had very strong constraints on music, and using only 2 colors in a 8 x 8 pixel area. These limits inspired creativity, I still hear the music of Galactic Gunners, I still see the loading screen of Asterix and the magic cauldron.
Unlike most Spectrum owners I have gone the Windows way.
Most lasting experience: I still don't believe in that two seconds are necessarily equal timespans, whatever physicists say.
First computer I had was a VIC 20. I think Commodore used it to test the market. It looked a lot like the C64 but inside it only had 5K of usable RAM and a 22-column screen. I was able to get the VicModem for it which was a strange device. You would have to manually dial the number on the phone then when you heard the carrier tone you had to disconnect the cord from the handset and plug it into the modem. Later I ended up buying a C64.
My first was a Sinclair ZX 81 with 1K of memory used a standard cassette drive for storage. Upgraded it to 64K and Streaming Tape Drive. Upgraded to C64 -> C128 - Amiga 1000 -> Amgia 500 -> Amiga 2000 -> Amiga 4000 (Still have the A4000 and ZX 81). Currently using MackBook Pro.
Mine was a C64. It was a big improvement to get the disk drive, even if I did have to leave the cover off so I could get the disk spinning by hand. The best thing was a Forth cartridge that I used to write a version of Conway's Life. My favorite programming experience to date.
My C64 was a C64C. I really loved that machine, although we got it very late in the machine's life (around 1990). It was amazing because you were dumped straight into the Basic interpreter within a second or so of flipping the power switch. Even though it was a terrible Basic dialect, it was the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning actual magic.
A couple of years later, we got an Atari STFM with 512 kb of RAM -- a pretty nice upgrade. Between that and the 4MB STFM I scored a year or so after that (complete with a disk box chock-full of pirate menudisks), I got a taste of programming in GFA Basic (and the less elegant STOS Basic), 68000 assembly and C. Good times!
My first computer was during that time, too. It was a Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. Spent countless hours typing in TI-Basic.
They had a magazine, too, with games you could type in line-by-line. They didn’t always work. And there was no reliable way to save them. So you basically just left it on and played as long as you could. Then deleted and started the next game. I didn’t care, it was my first programming experience and I enjoyed it.
I also remember doing loops, alternating between a color and black. Yes, I turned that big old monitor into a strobe light! Lol! What do you expect, I was between 10-13 when I had that computer. I had fun hacking away in TI-Basic.
I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone - Bjarne Stroustrup
The world is going to laugh at you anyway, might as well crack the 1st joke!
My code has no bugs, it runs exactly as it was written.
Same here. My first was a TI99/4a. Toys-R-Us put it on sale in about 1983. I went first thing in the morning and the line went all they way out into the parking lot behind the store. Although disappointed in my chances of getting a computer I got in line. Turns out it was a line for Cabbage Patch Dolls. Once I figured that out, it was to the front of the line and my home computer programming life began. Dog eared TI Basic book. I knew every page. I created a raster graphics package that reprogrammed the few characters you could define. Eventually got an assembler cartridge. That was great. Next computer - C64 and the joy of raster interrupts.
Bought a C64 for $395 in 1980. First used Basic for programming but got bored -- not really into playing computer games. Bought the C64 programmers guide and a book on microprocessors and learned all about machine/assembly language -- broke copy protection on a few games just for fun. In ~1987 bought an Amiga A2000... great machine at its time. Funny part is, my first degree was in Biology ('82), then went to grad school and did masters in computer sci. Enjoyed programming in '80, and still luv what I do!
I started with an Atari 600XL, added the cassette tape drive. (!) Looking back, that was
a nightmare device. I still have it, and it still works.
I upgraded to an 800XL and added the 1050 floppy disk drive. Still have all of my
Atari home computer hardware, and I've kept it up well, and it all still works. I even
made the modifications to the 800XL to make it a quarter-meg of ram (for those who remember that)
My first experience with assembly language was with these computers, and I even wrote a 'new'
high level language and compiler for it. I call it ESE (taken from computer-ese). Started
with a compiler in Atari Basic and then after getting the system to work, compiled ESE using
itself! How's that for CASE?
No one has really answered your question "Was that really that good". The answer, without hesitation, is YES!
It is hard to describe the joy of doing something which is utterly new and just "getting it". Stretching your mind to do something with such a tiny machine.
With the first 8086 machines, getting into assembler and understanding what the computer was actually doing, and how it did it.
That's why old codgers regard all this GUI stuff as just bloatware.
Yes, exactly! The fact that all you got when you switched on the C64 was a cursor prompt to start inputting commands strongly encouraged the hobbyist to learn how the computer worked! The manual would help get you started and their were excellent books on coding graphics and sound that really were aimed at kids and hobbyists. It was inspiring. This sparked all those magazines on coding aimed at the home user. It was empowering, it inspired a generation. Nowadays, the hobbyist has a much harder time getting a foot in the door. your average PC does not come equipped with a readily accessible programming interface, in that there is no mode an inexperienced user can simply switch to. Instead one has to get one's head around complicated development suites first and platforms with extensive class libraries. I think Python has tried to bring some of the gold old days back, but I don't feel as if it has succeeded in this.
I started with a Signetics 2650 writing my first code, not on a mini computer, in an early version of BASIC to create a tank game in monochrome on a 80x25 text screen directly addressing the the memory with "pokes" and "peeks". The character set had special characters including a tank facing in 8, year that's right, 8 different directions. Horizontal, vertical and diagonal. The microcomputer was home built on breadboard with the backplane wire-wrapped. What a nightmare!
1981 - My first was a VIC 20. 3K of RAM for code after booting.
Cassette tape drive (no floppies yet). Added a 170K single sided floppy drive and a 16K memory expansion.
This started it all. Many hours with the manual figuring it out.
I still have this and all the games.
Then I graduated to a C64 - still have 3 of these.
From there it was an X86, 286, 386, 486, etc. . . . and here I am 38 years later . . ready to retire in a couple of years after a nice career in IT and development.
My first machine was a TI-99/4 that I purchased in '78 for $1,200. I wanted to use it to play games, like those that I played on mainframes or at the arcade. Back then there were no games for the home computer market, so I had to write my own; I had never written a program before. I quickly learned to program in Basic. My first program was called TI-Invaders (a knock off of Space Invaders) and was published to 99'er Magazine's premiere issue. I ended up taking a job at 99'er magazine about a year later as the Sr. Technical Editor. I was responsible for all of the programs and their listings that were published. The magazine became a source for others who wanted to unlock the power of this new technology and eventually became Home Computer Magazine with over a quarter million subscribers. In '86 I co-founded Hyperlink Magazine, which focused on the Macintosh and a new programming tool called Hyper Card that used a new paradigm for application navigation by clicking on links where key words were linked to additional information. No one remembers Hyper card or Hyperlink Magazine, but the hyperlink lives on today.
The first computer I ever touched and "programmed" was a TRS-80, and I used it right in the Radio Shack store.
The first real computer time I got was as a freshman in high school in 1981. They had five or six Commodore Pets; these were the generation with the full sized keyboard and the tape drive in a separate box. There were a couple of 8KB machines, a couple of 16K machines, and one "monster" with 32KB. They were in a room not much larger than an elongated walk-in closet. The print devices were converted teletype machines.
Dad purchased a VIC-20 for us 3 kids (but it wound up being used mostly by me) at home; it must have been 1982.
During the summer after my year in the 9th grade, my high school relocated from the city of Detroit to the suburbs. With the move came a new, greatly expanded computer lab. It still had the Commodore PETs, but it quickly started acquiring Commodore 64s. By this time I was starting to really ramp up my knowledge and understanding of programming, and it was pretty plain to see that the VIC-20s days were numbered. I did some odd jobs here and there and saved up the money to purchase a Commodore 64. The next two years multiplied my knowledge many times over; I got into assembly, Pascal, and decided to pursue a Computer Information Systems major when I graduated from high school.
I went to my freshman year at college with a brand new Amiga 1000, and graduated after four years with my BA in CIS. It took awhile to get a job in the field, but I'm in year 28 or thereabouts of my software development career.
So, I guess the machine that was "my C64" really was a C64.
My first computer was the VIC 20, then the C64 by which time I also coded on the BBC micros at school. The C64 (and VIC 20) was great because it's BASIC was limited (the same reason many hated it) and so it forced you to use machine code / assembly language to do the exciting stuff like animated sprites. I am glad I coded on it because it taught me a lot about low-level programming and how computers work. These days you can too easily avoid all that (I code mostly in Java these days, with a bit of C++/C#) but I still find it useful to have an insight into the inner workings, and besides it's interesting. Modern PCs are surprisingly (or not) similar in basic architecture. The BBC had better BASIC and I used it to write a database management program at school (just simple creation, search and editing features). I enjoyed using all three of these computers. In the end my C64 and VIC 20 failed in the way they usually did - the power supply adapter failed. I do occasionally dabble on a C64 emulator for nostalgic and academic reasons. I never did become a fully-fledged professional coder (I always found the industry a bit too scary!), though I do code a lot as part of my academic teaching role.
Way back I had a TI 99-4A. Loved that little machine. Still have the BASIC programming guide as a keepsake. Also a TRS-80 Model 100 portable, which I guess was the first laptop computer. Worked on a gob of D batteries and had a big old 4 line / 40 column screen. It's in my closet and still works if I spend a fortune on batteries.
Sometimes the true reward for completing a task is not the money, but instead the satisfaction of a job well done. But it's usually the money.