How to use the WinVICE C64 Emulator

This article for the WinVICE C64 Emulator is very important if you are new to the Commodore 64 and have never owned a physical personal computer during the time that Commodore was king of the world. I felt it was necessary to write this post so that you can learn how to use the emulator to access Commodore 64 programs.

VICE (short for the Versatile Commodore Emulator) was created by a man named Jarkko Sonninen and released their first download in December of 2008. Their tool closely resembles the original Commodore 64 and its personal line of computers (such as the C128, VIC=20, and Plus/4). This discussion will cover the Windows version. There are many features to learn about this software that you will learn in this session.

How do I use it?

The WinVICE C64 emulator requires access to d64 images (disk images). These images are a close mirror to the original file types common on the Commodore systems. What this means is they are portable. If you get access to a SD disk reader you can transfer programs (in d64 format) back and forth between your main desktop computer to a Commodore 64 5 1/4 diskette. I did a review on YouTube on a device I purchased several years ago called the 1564 SDrive. I also covered the disk copy service in a different video. I will try to include a link to them in this article.

WinVICE Emulator

Before we get into the explanation, be sure to check out the live WinVICE emulator. This allows you to use the tool real time as if you already downloaded it to your computer.

WinVICE C64 Emulator Keyboard

Another thing you may not yet be aware of is that when you are using the WinVICE C64 Emulator it will simulate a real Commodore computer. So for example, if you enter Basic and start typing on your computer you will eventually notice that some characters are not in the same area. This is because VICE has created a map to reflect a true Commodore keyboard. This will take some adjusting, especially if you have never owned an original Commodore 64/128 computer before. The best way to get used to anything though is repetition and lots of practice. Hint: If you are still looking for the * (asterisk), just type the ] key and you will see it. This may vary based on your location and the version you downloaded.  To help you out, I just study the picture I found online and eventually this should become second nature to you.

The VICE emulator can be download at the sourceforge website.  It supports a wide variety of machines from Unix to Windows to Mac OS X. So you can be assured that it will work on your machine. I am currently using Windows 10, but it has also been tested on Windows 7 and works just as fine. The company also periodically releases new versions, so be sure to check their website often.

Loading a Disk Image

To load a disk image within VICE, click on the File menu then select Attach disk image. After this a sub menu appears. You can use Drive 8 up to Drive 11. Then the Attach disk image window appears. You will need to locate a D64 image or you can download one online. I would have included some here, but WordPress restricts upload of these files. Observe the screenshot and you should get a better idea of what the file looks like. This one is pointing on my LoadStar files.  The Files are listed in the main window. Below that you will see the file name that is selected. The field shows Files of type, to confirm the files that can be utilized with this version. Below that is an area where you can create a new disk image. I recommend watching the video at the top of this page to learn more.

Running a Program

There are several ways you can run a program. First you can click on any of the .D64 images to run that file. This will close the Attach disk image window and begin running that program. You can also enter Basic directly and run a program as if you were sitting in front of a real Commodore computer.  First be sure that you have clicked on a disk image and pressed the Attach button. If the program attempts to run though, you can reset it to Basic. Just click on The File menu, select Reset and choose Hard on the sub menu that opens.

Using Basic to Run a Program

VICE C64 Emulator

To use Basic instead, we can access a disk directory. Be sure that the Commodore 64 Basic screen is loaded up. You should see something similar to the screenshot. You can now interact directly with the software. Type in LOAD “$”, 8. This will force the computer to check the file that was selected early and load it into memory with drive 8. If you have to use a different drive, just substitute the ,8 for your drive. For example, if you are using drive 11, type LOAD “$”, 11 instead. After this you will see the READY prompt again. Your directory has been loaded. Now type in LIST and press the enter key. A directory listing will scroll on your screen.  When you want to run a program just type LOAD “Basic name”, 8 and press enter. Be sure to replace the ‘Basic name’ for the file that shows in the directory.

Please leave me some comments if you found this guide or the video above to be helpful. I like to hear back from my visitors. Also if you have questions, I will find time to respond accordingly. Have fun and keep the C64 spirit alive!  🙂