C64 disk directory

Floppy disks can contain Commodore 64 programs that can be viewed. In order to access the Commodore disk diretory though you will need to type in LOAD “$”, 8, which accesses the DOS built into ROM.

This command is much more than just a simple load command. Let’s analyze it a little further to understand it’s intended purpose. First let’s take a look at it again below.

LOAD “$”,8

The full syntax is:
LOAD [“”[, [, ]]]

The first word is a command read from a tokenized table to tell the system that an I/O (Input/Output) action will be taking place. This means that the disk drive or cassette tape will be accessed based on the parameters proceeding the command.

The next section that shows “*” is an old school term for a “wildcard”. This character is called an ‘asterisk’. Essentially, this tells the Commodore computer examine the last file on the disk that has been inserted. By default it will point to the first file when you first turn on the personal computer.

The next part shows ,8. This area is reading the device that has been connected to the Commodore disk drive. If you examine the back of the drive you will see a switch (known as a DIP switch) that can point to the appropriate drive you have hooked to it. This is because the disk drive is capable of connecting many other devices. So with a second drive you would likely alter the command to read LOAD “*”,9, 1 or something equivalent to that. The default drive with no other connected devices will read an eight here placing the program at the starting address for Basic at $0801 (2049).

After typing in the entire command and pressing the Return key, the disk drive will hum for a short period while the disk contents are retrieved. Then eventually you will be greeted with the READY prompt which indicates that the activity has finished.

The Commodore 64 system itself does not contain a copy of the program responsible for the directory, but rather there are chips contained within the disk drive mechanism itself that control this output display.

The way to then view what was loaded into memory within the Commodore 64 Disk Directory  is to type the command LIST and press the Return key. This is used to load the program placed in RAM (Random Access Memory), which more often than not is a Basic program.

Commodore 64 file names consist of a file type to identify their association. The types are listed below as defined:

PRG = Program files

SEQ = Sequential data files

REL = Relative data files

USR =  User (nearly identical to sequential)

DEL = Deleted (you may never see one of these)

Once the disk drive has listed the Commodore Disk Directory on the screen, toward the bottom you will see the number of remaining blocks free. Also each file will show the size to the left and the file type to the right.

When a file type failed to be closed, it will be labeled with an asterisk (*) next to it. Often these are unrecoverable and must be erased.