My Commodore 64 Journey

I have been wanting to explore some of the many diskettes I currently own. For example I have hundreds of floppy disks that I have never had much time to review. There are literally tons of Basic and assembly language programs packed inside those plastic sleeves. I’m hoping to find time to eventually hook up my Commodore 64 personal computer and see what treasures I can find. I have so many great memories about this machine! That brings a story to mind for me that I wanted to share with you. You see, the journey to own my machine did not happen overnight.

My history with the C64

I started with a Commodore 64 computer at somewhere around 1987. The story is that I had an Atari 2600 game system, but longed for a computer ever since I witnessed my neighbor playing games on the one he just purchased around that time. Those were great years indeed. I vividly recall his mother answering the door and calling out to Jason that I had arrived. He greeted me warmly at the door and led me to a chair next to a desk in the far back where he sat down in the one next to the computer. He started talking about this system with the most amazing graphics you can imagine. I was still color burned on the Atari 2600 during that time, so it was easy for me not to have known that then. Soon he loaded up a game called Ghostbusters and the computer spoke the word “Ghostbusters” followed by a strange laugh. Then the music began. I remember that is when I saw the power of this machine. I thought it was quite iconic that a movie was adapted into a game in that generation.

After we explored a few other games, such as Rambo and Gi-Joe, he started talking to me about Basic since I mentioned I was curious about it. Now he was not a programmer. I recall him typing in some strange commands that the computer did not understand. He laughed when he saw the SYNTAX ERROR appeared. After awhile though, he got annoyed, turned off the computer for a moment, and started loading up the games again. He did explain that he had to use LOAD “*”, 8, 1 to get them to run within Basic. Jason also mentioned that I could probably get a Commodore 64 for about $98, and that he would let me borrow some games when I got mine.

A good memory is like a treasure that is concealed in your mind. Once you locate that treasure, you have no desire to part with it and can often daydream about that moment in your life. For example, if someone mentions the word Commodore 64, it instantly triggers a flood of great memories like the one I just shared.

Best of Times

I can still clearly recall leaving for home after spending what seemed to be a very short time span of witnessing the most incredible computer graphics I have ever seen. When I returned to the outside, a blast of Ohio cold air greeted me in the face and I glanced at the snow covering the rugged, reflective street. Lights illuminated houses around me. Time seemed to melt into the snow as that moment was forever captured in my heart.

I began my walk home, which was only a few blocks away. In that moment the clock seemed to be suspended as I pondered what my future must hold. I wanted to work in computers or maybe I could be a game designer. After witnessing that amazing sight, I realized that I had to return home to the Atari console I had grown to love. However, I was getting older and little more mature.  Something in my mind seemed to have switched gears. I knew now more than ever that I really wanted to have my own computer. I was being taunted by the recollection memories to see Jason smiling as he flipped open the door to the disk drive to load up a new game.

Saving for a Commodore 64

What you also did not know yet, is that I was still living at home during that time. I did not yet have a real job (outside of lawn mowing) where I could afford to go out and buy a Commodore 64. I had to begin a long journey of saving my quarters, dimes, nickles, and pennies to go toward the purchase of a computer. Since it was winter, I had no chance of earning money anytime soon. While I was happy then, I also felt a little sad realizing that it was going to be a long road until I could own my own machine. Jason owned a computer, disk drive, monitor, and games. I must admit I was jealous. Disk drives were costly during that time and could easily run $250. I envied him, but hoped that eventually I would possess my own. The thought of even owning a monitor escaped my grasp far into the atmosphere of that cold night. I was using the library to access a computer during that season.

It was in November of 1986. That was an amazing season since I felt like I just received the most amazing visual present ever. What I didn’t mention yet is that Jason scheduled a date for me to see his computer. I had to wait nearly a month to see, it but it was worth it. To this day, I can smile when I look over at my Commodore 64 computer nearby and monitor on a stand. Now I can see it anytime I want. However, nothing is better than a good moment in history since it was all still fresh to you.

My C64 Nostalgia

Fast forward many years later, I smile when I still think about those moments. I’m probably grinning even more since I had amassed quite a collection of Commodore 64 components to this day. I own several disk drives now and actual several C64 systems (not all pictured here). I own hundreds of disks, an 1564 SDrive SD card reader, set of joysticks, and a stack of C64 books. I am truly blessed from the 8-bit world now. These moments are so vital to the happiness you can experience in your life. For me, time stands still when I hook up my C64 system (like I did tonight) and hear the winds of time take me back to those days as my mental clock starts turning. I tried to recreate the experience as best as I remember with the furniture I had on hand in my tiny studio apartment. This moment will be a treasure when I am old and grey. Heh, heh, I’m already grey.

Blogs are amazing to write since you can take the reader with you. If you are reading this as a first time using then I highly recommend reading the VICE Emulator blog I wrote on this website.  It is my sincerely hope that you can learn to write programs and explore this incredible machine with amazing graphics and sound.

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