Somewhere around early December in 1982, a Commodore 64 Christmas demo was splashed across monitors in nearly every department store in that era.
The selling point to this demo, is that the purchase of a new SX-64 came packaged with this test/demo diskette that showcased the computer’s amazing multicolor graphics and sound capabilities. Even though it wasn’t actually included with a brand new Commodore 64 system, the demo still encouraged the sales of the other machine.
The Commodore SX-64 (also known as the “Executive 64”) was a portable computer that came included with a mini 5 inch monitor. It was the first full color portable computer
The Commodore 64 utilized a special type of graphics made called Multicolor that allowed the computer to utilize up to 4 pixel colors in an individual 8 x 8 block. Although it only managed 4 colors, by setting these characters up side by side, the system could generate some fantastic displays, even for just an 8-bit machine as demonstrated in the Commodore 64 Christmas Demo.
The SID system contained 3 voices total that was made up of various instruments. The Commodore 64 utilizes pulse waveforms, control registers, envelope (ADSR) control, attack/decay, sustain/release, filter cutoff frequency, filter resonance control, and volume for the voices. These are listed below with the appropriate memory register:
Robert Russell has been famed with being involved with the Christmas demo. He was involved with the trade fairs back in the early days of promoting the Commodore computers, which included attending the Comdex trade fair in 1980. This was during the time of the VIC 20’s introduction and growing interest.
At the start of the Commodore 64 Christmas demo we are presented with a snow falling affect. This was likely accomplished with sprite multiplexing (copying them down the lines on the screen). The SID chip emulates the sound of a blowing wind. The snow also has a nice effect of moving diagonally at times. After the snow has fallen for a bit, the C64 logo appears in the center.
In the next scene a Christmas fanfare plays in the background. The Commodore 64 Christmas demo populates the screen with a city. Snow is falling once again to create a nice effect.
Jingle Bells C64 style
In the next scene we are presented with the SID chip playing Jingle Bells. A Christmas tree made up of PET ASCII characters is seen here with flashing characters. This flashing effect is likely achieve by the kernal timer.
A Santa Claus and reindeer sprite are seen moving from left to right. The snow effect is begins to fall again. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer played SID tunes in the background. The display is created with PET ASCII characters once more.
Now the screen displays another amazing PET ASCII Display. The song in the background plays Gloria in excelsis deo. No animation occurs in this scene. Just a nice colorful display!
Frosty the snowman C64 style
This one is my favorite animation. Here we see the snow falling again. The tune Frosty the snowman fills the background SID chip. We also see two dancing sprites in front of a snowman. Soon after a few seconds, the snowman comes to life! He dances out the finished tune with a nice animation.
Finally before we leave I’d like to share another amazing Commodore 64 Christmas demo from 1987. This one has a lot of nice sprite effects. The music is also updated here. It also uses PET ASCII characters with animation. Merry Christmas from C64Brain!
So there you have it. A Commodore 64 Christmas demo from 1982! The system was priced at $595 which was actually a deal then. Although I didn’t get one for Christmas, much later I purchase one. From that moment on I learned Basic and Assembly language.
To this day I am a Commodore 64 game designer for YouTube.
Steve has always had a passion for computers even before I owned one. His first personal computer was an Atari 65xe purchased at Children's Palace around 1986. In later years he attended DeVry University and received a Computer Science degree, works as a Front End Web Developer and is a born again Christian.
Although this is a tech site, I am ashamed of the gospel. I am a sinner saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. If you ever want to talk about salvation, I'm game.